For the quarter, Newell earned $80.4 million in net income, or $0.27 a share, compared to $75.7 million, or $0.25 a share, from a year earlier. Excluding one-time items, fourth quarter adjusted EPS came in at $0.40 topping analysts' estimates of $0.38.
Net sales also rose 3.7% to $1.5 billion, beating analysts' estimates of $1.49 billion. According to the company's press release, "[s]trong performance from emerging markets, new product pipeline fill, as well as distribution and share gains in North America, were the primary growth drivers." Newell's core sales grew 2% to 3%, excluding the impact of unfavorable exchange-rate conversions.
Going forward, the company is optimistic about its ability to leverage two ongoing restructuring programs to improve the bottom line. Its initial outlook for full year 2012 anticipates core sales growth of 2% to 3%.
The first restructuring plan focuses on the company's European operations, and is appropriately coined the "European Transformation Plan." This plan includes initiatives designed to "transform, simplify, and streamline the European organizational structure and business processes, aiming to lower costs and improve profitability." The company expects to realize annualized profitability improvement of $50 to $60 million upon completion of the plan in 2012.
The second restructuring plan is known as "Project Renewal." According to Newell's president and CEO, Michael Polk, this is an initiative designed to "reduce complexity in operating structure and realign resources to their highest possible businesses." In a research note dated January 26, JPMorgan Chase analyst John Faucher stated that he believes "that the restructuring savings that Newell will generate from Project Renewal and the European transformation plan will provide plenty of earnings flexibility in 2012."
While the results were positive, Newell competes in a highly aggressive marketplace with the likes of Post-It maker 3M
How to play it
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Foolish contributing writer John Maxfield does not have a financial position in any of the company's mentioned above. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of 3M and Procter & Gamble; and creating a diagonal call position in 3M. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.