Sales for the fourth quarter grew by 2 percent to reach $5.1bn, while organic sales, which included the impact of foreign currencies, meant sales were up by 3 percent.
The figure was slightly ahead of analysts’ expectations. In a poll conducted by FactSet, analysts had on average expected sales of $5.05bn for the period.
Earnings for the period were flat at $492m, which was exactly the same figure as the last three months of 2009.
Cost cutting measures on the way...
Making reference to the results, CEO Thomas Falk said that the results for the quarter had fallen in line with the company’s forecast, despite continued challenges in the European markets.
“At the same time, we will continue to manage our company with financial discipline, with a strong focus on cost savings and cash generation,” he said.
As well as the restructuring plan for the pulp and tissue division, the company also plans to repurchase a ‘significant’ amount of company stock during the course of 2011, funded by debt financing.
In the company’s mainstay personal care business, sales for the quarter were up 2 percent to reach $2.2bn, a rise that also reflected an increase in sales volumes of 2 percent.
Europe takes the hit
Although sales in North America increased by 3 percent during the quarter, the company took a big hit in Europe, where a depressed economy and unfavorable currency exchange meant that sales fell by 4 percent.
In other international operations, personal care sales for the period increased by 4 percent, driven by particularly double-digit gains in China, Australia, Turkey, South Africa and most of Latin America.
For the full year 2010 results net income fell 2 percent to $1.84bn, impacted by currency revaluation in Venezuela, while net sales increased3 percent to $19.75bn.
Looking ahead to the full year 2011, the company said it believes that full year sales will grow at between 3 – 4 percent, while organic sales are expected to rise by 2 – 3 percent and volumes should rise by 1 – 2 percent.