Like the famous Steve Bartman foul ball, a miss at Wrigley
This is a miss that stings. The company earned just $0.49 a share in the fourth quarter. And because the company's 2003 results were juiced by a weaker dollar overseas, this is worse than just failing to clear the $0.53 a share bar set by Wall Street.
In fact, while the company can point to higher earnings for the year as a whole -- from $1.78 to $1.98 per share -- a full 14 of those pennies (or two-thirds of that growth) came from favorable currency translations.
There is some comfort in knowing that Wrigley's was able to grow its sales past the $3 billion mark in 2003, but this doesn't look good. Perhaps that's why the company is out to appease its investors by hiking its dividend and announcing a share buyback, even as it has plenty of room to go on its existing repurchase plan.
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Wrigley may explain away the shortcoming, alluding to spikes in marketing costs and geographic expansion, but a miss is still a miss. It gives shareholders something to chew on, but like a stick of Wrigley's, it's a tough one to swallow.
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