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What: Shares of International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. (NYSE:IFF) fell as much as 14% in trading Thursday after reporting disappointing earnings.

So what: Sales fell 5% in the fourth quarter to $715.6 million and net income dropped 21% to $71.6 million, or $0.89 per share. After adjusting for one-time items, earnings were $1.05 per share, but that still fell $0.10 short of what Wall Street expected.  

Now what: Organically, sales weren't as bad as they looked on a GAAP basis because a strong dollar made international sales look weak. Without that currency weakness sales would have grown 5%, helped by 2% from acquisitions.

Despite the currency adjustments, I don't see a lot of positives for International Flavors & Fragrances in the quarter. Declining earnings make it hard to justify paying 20 times earnings for the company and that's what will keep me out of shares today.

Travis Hoium has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. 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.