Getting the earnings press release for Income Investor selection Wrigley (NYSE:WWY) is always a bit of a disappointment for me, because at the bottom of the press release sits the income statement -- all alone, with no balance sheet or statement of cash flows accompanying it. All it provides are sales, margins, and earnings, which are interesting and important but far less meaningful without the context the balance sheet and statement of cash flows provide.

Fortunately, Wrigley isn't a fly-by-night operation, so getting just the income statement in a press release and having to wait for the company to file its 10-Q to get the real deal isn't as bad as it would be with some other companies. The company has been slugging it out with Cadbury Schweppes (NYSE:CSG), Tootsie Roll Industries (NYSE:TR), and Hershey (NYSE:HSY) for decades, and has strong brands in its stable that give the business some long-term durability.

Putting aside my grousing, I must admit that the fourth-quarter and full-year results provided by the company are pretty good. Sales increased by 10.6% for the quarter and 12.7% for the year, and earnings per diluted share increased 39.4% for the quarter and 3.8% for the year. The large difference in the quarterly and annual growth rates is largely explained by the company's acquisitions, restructuring charges earlier in the year, and the expensing of options.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the company's performance is its growth outside the U.S. and its continued investment in international markets. Running through the numbers for the company's sales growth abroad is like playing a game of "can you top this?" Considering overall sales were up 12.6%, the 9% from Europe, India, and the Middle East was a slight drag on the results for the year, but the 19% increase in the fourth quarter was very strong. There's a good chance that this type of performance will continue, and it should be helped by the company's recent 80% acquisition of A. Korkunov, a leading seller of chocolate in Russia. But Asia is where the company really shone, with a sales increase of 23% for the year and 18% in the fourth quarter.

A large part of the return in Wrigley over the years has come from its dividend, which, the company announced in its earnings release, is being increased by another 13%. This ups its current dividend yield to 2.3%, which, along with its ability to continue growing cash flow, makes its valuation attractive. Assuming that you have a broker who can automatically reinvest those dividends for you, I think an investment in Wrigley here is likely to do better than 10% annually over the long term. Considering how long Wrigley has been around and how large the company has become, that's nothing to sneeze at.

That just might be why the Motley Fool Income Investor newsletter service recommended Wrigley to subscribers. Since it was recommended, the stock has returned 14.5% to subscribers of the market-beating newsletter. If you're interested in great companies that pay you while you wait, take a free 30-day trial of the newsletter today.

At the time of publication Nathan Parmelee had no financial interest in any of the companies mentioned and was ranked 176th out of 21,858 CAPS investors. The Motley Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.