CHICAGO — For the year ended Dec. 31, the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. posted net earnings of $632,005,000, equal to $2.30 per share on the common stock, up 19% from $529,377,000, or $1.91 per share, during 2006.
Net sales for the year were $5,389,100,000, up 15% from $4,683,437,000 during the previous year.
"Crossing $5 billion in sales represents the achievement of an ambitious aspiration we had set for ourselves several years ago," said Bill Wrigley Jr., executive chairman and chairman of the board. "More importantly, this growth was accomplished along with the strategic diversification of our brand portfolio and confectionery capabilities as well as the expansion of our sales infrastructure and the increased efficiency of our supply chain operations. These initiatives have us well positioned to continue capturing opportunities in global confectionery, which remains one of the fastest growing categories in the food sector."
For the year, the North America segment posted operating income of $373,127,000, up 3% from $362,024,000 during the previous year. Sales for the quarter were $1,756,254,000, up slightly from $1,752,279,000 during 2006.
For the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, Wrigley posted net earnings of $155,019,000, or 56c per share, up 20% from $128,825,000, or 46c per share, during the same quarter of the previous year. Sales for the quarter were $1,424,222,000, which compared with $1,223,829,000 during the same quarter of 2006.
"Given the challenging cost environment, we were pleased with the overall improvement in gross margins this year following recent declines," said Reuben Gamoran, senior vice-president and chief financial officer. "We will continue to look for ways to offset margin pressure — resulting from higher input costs and new product activity — in order to maintain our strong gross margin position."