Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE:CL), a global leader in oral and personal-care products, posted a bang-up performance to round out 2009. Its superior products yielded peer-beating results during the worst of the recession, and now that consumers are growing more confident, the company's ringing the register.

The company, which produces Softsoap, Tom's of Maine, and other  products, hauled in $4.08 billion in sales during the fourth quarter. Compared with the year-ago quarter, that's an 11.5% gain, supported by particularly strong volume growth of 3%.

Record-level earnings per share reached $1.21, representing 21% year-over-year growth (and that's when adding back a $0.06 restructuring charge in the fourth quarter of 2008).

Notably, these impressive growth rates don't come courtesy of easy comparisons -- in 2008's final quarter, sales, volumes, and EPS were all positive. Said differently, Colgate-Palmolive's fine quarterly showing demonstrates strength on an absolute basis, not just a bounce off a low base.

All things considered, full-year performance also shone. Revenue in 2009 was even with the previous year, at $15.3 billion, while volume climbed 0.5%. Currency headwinds completely offset price increases -- 75% of sales are international, and we no doubt all remember last year's flight to the dollar. Meanwhile, EPS of $4.37 advanced 13% compared with 2008's adjusted results.

There is, however, a blemish to consider. In June of last year, I expressed concern that sales of Colgate-Palmolive's  premium-priced Hill's pet foods may suffer in the future, and that's exactly what happened. Fourth-quarter Hill's volume sunk 8.5%. Explaining the disappointing results, management cited recessionary trends that didn't mix well with a series of 2008-09 price increases. Ultimately, price gaps between Hill's and competing products -- which include Procter & Gamble's (NYSE:PG) Iams brand and Nestle's Purina Beneful -- became too wide. Fortunately, management is taking steps to restore consumer value, and it now expects 2010 segment sales to be positive. At 14% of companywide revenue, this division might dog the company if it continues to underperform.

Getting back to decidedly good news, management told conference-call listeners that a big jump in operating cash flow bodes well for "increased dividends and stock repurchases." More of a growth than an income stock, in my opinion, I don't believe Colgate-Palmolive will boast the 3%-plus yield of a Clorox (NYSE:CLX), a Kraft (NYSE:KFT), or H.J. Heinz (NYSE:HNZ) anytime soon. Talk of a meatier dividend is probably best understood as a measure of overall confidence.

On that note, management is upbeat that it can turn in yet another year of double-digit EPS growth. Down from a recent foray into the mid-$80s, shares currently trade at $80 and change, representing a forward P/E of 15.1. For comparison, the stock's five-year average P/E is 22.8.  

Going forward, I wouldn't assume that management can match its trailing five-year EPS growth rate of 13%. But I wouldn't be surprised to see the company pull it off, either. All told, today's prices likely offer a good buying opportunity. Another trip down to the $70s, however, would be a chance to really load up the cart.

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Clorox, H.J. Heinz, and Procter & Gamble are Motley Fool Income Investor picks. The Fool owns shares of Procter & Gamble. Try any of our Foolish newsletters free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Mike Pienciak holds no financial interest in any company mentioned in this article. The Fool's disclosure policy never forgets to floss.