If you work in an office, you probably know the name Avery Dennison (NYSE:AVY) from its ubiquitous office products. The company is doing what a lot of other consumer-products outfits have done -- enacting cost-control initiatives. So far, the company is doing well on this front, and it anticipates further savings throughout the year. Its efforts seem to be paying off, as seen in its first-quarter earnings, which were released yesterday.

Net sales increased 4% to $1.4 billion. Diluted earnings per share, on a GAAP basis, increased 16% to $0.80. Taking into account restructuring and asset-impairment charges in both comparable periods, Avery Dennison earned $0.82 per diluted share, which represents a growth rate of 9%. International territories helped to drive the sales increase. Europe and emerging marketplaces did well; North America, however, wasn't as robust.

Besides restructuring efforts, Avery Dennison is also looking ahead to an acquisition to keep shareholder value on the rise. The Federal Trade Commission recently approved its plan to purchase Paxar (NYSE:PXR), a provider of apparel tags and RFID solutions for the retail industry. Avery Dennison has an operating segment devoted to retail information services, and by combining Paxar with this segment, the company is hoping to leverage all kinds of synergies. RFID should become increasingly important to retailers as time progresses, since the technology can enhance a supply chain's efficiency. I see the logic in this acquisition, and I believe it will be a good fit.

The news wasn't all good, though -- cash flow was kind of a dud this quarter. Cash from operations decreased 45% to $11.9 million, and there was no free cash flow left over after capital spending. Keep in mind, however, that this is only the first quarter of the year, and there was no free cash flow last year at this time. Avery Dennison generally does well on the cash-flow front, as I noted in a previous article.

This company is an effective competitor against the likes of Bemis (NYSE:BMS) and Motley Fool Inside Value pick 3M (NYSE:MMM), and the stock currently yields about 2.5%. The business is kind of dull, but it's got a great dividend track record, so that should pep an investor up. Granted, there's risk in the Paxar acquisition, and nobody knows whether the integration will go smoothly. But for now, I think Avery Dennison is handling itself well.

Past Foolishness on Avery Dennison:

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Fool contributor Steven Mallas owns none of the companies mentioned. As of this writing, he was ranked 13,507 out of 27,826 investors in Motley Fool CAPS. Don't know what CAPS is? Check it out. The Fool has a disclosure policy.