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MWV fourth quarter sales up but profits down

By Katie Bird , 26-Jan-2011

Packaging supplier MeadWestvaco (MWV) has said fourth quarter sales were up on last year, but net income fell.

Sales for the company, which supplies packaging products to the personal care, cosmetics, health care and food markets, in addition to serving a number of industries with its paperboard materials, stood at $1.498bn for the quarter in comparison to $1.452bn for the same period last year.

However, including discontinued operations, profit for the quarter fell slightly, from $51m to $47m, which includes the company’s media and entertainment packaging business along with its envelope business.

Full year sales for 2010 for the company were up from $5.4bn to $5.7bn, but profit was down from $225m to $106m.

Sales down, profits up in consumer solutions

Personal care and cosmetics products are part of the company’s Consumer Solutions segment which recorded stronger profits for the fourth quarter than the previous year, despite experiencing a drop in sales.

Fourth quarter sales for the segment came in at $437m compared to $456m, but profits for the period were up from $17m to $24m.

Full year results echoed these figures for the sector, with sales down from $1.847bn to $1.818bn, but profit up from $94m to $125m.

While personal care sales were up due to strong volume gains in airless dispensers and high value fragrance products, sales were dragged down by exits from unprofitable healthcare markets, according to the company.

In addition, lower end items in the personal care sector such as soap dispensing products also suffered sales drops. According to MWV this was down to negative comparison with last year’s figures when the fear over H1N1 was driving extremely high consumer demand.

Strategies to increase profits

According to CEO John A. Luke Jr. the results for the full year reflect the success in implementing cost saving strategies.

"We have transformed MWV into a company that is generating significantly higher returns on a consistent basis, and we've seen that reflected in our operating performance over the course of 2010.

"Our record 2010 earnings are the direct result of the success we've had implementing focused strategies to increase profits in each of our targeted end-markets,” he said.

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