Unwrap a stick of your favorite Wrigley (NYSE:WWY) gum, because it's time to celebrate the confectioner's first quarter.

The top line saw an increase of 17% in net sales to $1.26 billion. On a GAAP basis, earnings grew 30% to $0.52 per diluted share. Taking into account some restructuring charges and a one-time benefit from an asset sale, earnings actually increased a more modest 19% to $0.50 per share.

The weak dollar helped out this past quarter. The company's earnings release mentions that the revenue achievement was catalyzed by international shipments and positive currency translation. This is a well-known story, as it's been reported over and over again how U.S. businesses are benefiting from foreign sales and the greenback's relationship to other monetary systems.

It amazes me sometimes to see the amount of money being made from something as simple as gum. Wrigley does a great job of leveraging its brand name and distribution network to move its products and to compete with related players such as Hershey (NYSE:HSY), Tootsie Roll (NYSE:TR), and Cadbury Schweppes (NYSE:CSG). In fact, it cited its Orbit and Eclipse products as drivers during the quarter. LifeSavers also helped out, as did a chocolate version of Altoid mints.

A look at the latest 10-K does show weakness in the cash-flow department, however. Net cash from operations hasn't changed much the last few years, falling in a tight range between $720 million and $740 million. Capital spending, on the other hand, has increased from roughly $220 million in 2004 to $328 million in 2006 (there was also significant acquisition activity in fiscal 2005 of about $1.4 billion). So, yes, free cash has been decreasing. Still, the dividend is being covered, and management is confident in the future. In fact, Wrigley -- an Income Investor recommendation -- recently hiked its quarterly payment by 13%.

The stock closed up yesterday almost 7% on the strong, expectation-beating earnings news, and it is currently yielding about 2%. There's no doubt that Wrigley is a great long-term investment, as Nathan Parmelee observed. I'd urge Fools to wait for a drop in the shares, though, due to yesterday's run-up.

Chew on these Takes:

•  Wrigley Wraps Up a Sweet Year

•  Wrigley recently hiked its dividend.

•  Back in the fall, Fools dueled over Wrigley.

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Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns none of the companies mentioned. As of this writing, he was ranked 10,682 out of 28,200 investors in the CAPS system. Don't know what CAPS is? Check it out. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.