Spectrum Brands (NYSE:SPB) may not be a household name, but that hasn't kept the consumer brands giant from leveraging its very popular subsidiaries, and generating generous returns for investors. In just two years, the stock is up more than 165%. The company, which owns brands such as Rayovac, Remington, Black & Decker, and Farberware, among others, delivered a net loss in its earnings release last week, though the market rallied behind it, and the stock briefly hit its 52-week high. Spectrum trades in line with its peers, and offers the potential for dividend-fueled capital appreciation. While its stock is not on sale, the company could be a solid long-term holding.

Earnings recap
Sales rose a hefty 37% for Spectrum in its fourth quarter, hitting $1.14 billion -- mainly fueled by the company's recent acquisition of kitchen staple Black & Decker. Analysts were anticipating about $10 million less. On the bottom line, things didn't look as pretty, with a $0.70 per-share loss, though this was not due to a fault in the operating business. The reason for the $0.80 per-share year-over-year decline was due entirely to debt extinguishment. The debt payoff aside, Spectrum earned $0.88 per share -- a solid $0.17 ahead of the prior year's numbers.

Segment by segment, Spectrum saw year-over-year declines in its global batteries and pet supply segments, alongside double-digit gains in hardware and improvement, as well as home and garden.

On the year, Spectrum lost $1.06 per share. A year ago, it had earned $0.91 per share. The company is in the midst of building out its portfolio, and is incurring the necessary costs. The market seemed well aware, as shares, for a moment, tapped their all-time high.

A buy today?
Spectrum has a great blend of discretionary and non-discretionary products, which gives it a certain insulation from the current tepidity in consumer-spending habits. Also, management seems committed to shareholder value, as it has prioritized the aforementioned debt extinguishment. At the end of fiscal 2010, the company had more than $1.7 billion in long-term debt and, today, has more than $3 billion in debt. While this may be enough to scare investors off, the company is leveraging to its advantage, and has immediately taken action to reduce its relatively large debt load.

The company also generates a healthy amount of cash flow, with $350 million projected for next year. With a current market cap of just over $3.6 billion, this gives a P/FCF of around 10.3 times. For comparison, Energizer Holdings trades at a P/FCF of 13 times 2012's free cash flow.

Valuation isn't particularly appealing, but the focus for investors here should be the cash generation and the longevity of the brands. Spectrum should continue to bring investors juicy returns for some time.