Shares of consumer products giant Newell Rubbermaid (NYSE:NWL) fell nearly 10% in morning trading on news of a downbeat outlook for the end of 2003. Sales are expected to fall 1% to 2% for the year and the income statement, for all the charges expected to mark it up, will better resemble a Bart Simpson history exam.

This is, however, not really news for Newell Rubbermaid. Its financial statements have been dotted with charges for some time now -- and that seems unlikely to change in the near term. What the company hopes investors will see on the other side is a leaner company that, while perhaps smaller, will have a higher-margin product mix and a better cost structure (powered in large part by cheaper overseas manufacturing).

For the time being, though, investors don't have much to cheer. The stock is down significantly over the last 12 months even as the S&P 500 has climbed ahead. But the company is pushing back while it reorganizes; it's introducing new products (including some new additions to the underperforming Sharpie line) and cutting inventory. It's also maintained its dividend.

What exactly Newell Rubbermaid and its financial performance will look like when all is said and done isn't clear. What investors can likely expect is a profitable, dividend-paying company with strong free cash flow. It's difficult to project what kind of growth to expect down the road: Newell Rubbermaid is projecting anything from just about flat to approximately 8% before charges (but after divestitures) for next year.

Mathew Emmert took a look at Newell Rubbermaid earlier this year in a column discussing dividend-paying stocks. Its shares have since fallen, making their yield more attractive for income-focused investors. The company stands to impress even more if its restructuring efforts pay off.

Are you interested in finding out more about dividend-paying companies? A 30-day free trial to Mathew Emmert's Income Investor is here for the taking.

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Dave Marino-Nachison can be reached at .