Shares of Avery Dennison Corp. soared Tuesday above the $60 mark after the Pasadena-based label maker reported a 41 percent jump in fourth-quarter profits, buoyed by increased demand for office products and the strong euro.
The company reported a 41 percent jump in net income to $83.6 million (83 cents per diluted share) in the quarter ended Dec. 31, versus net income of $59.3 million (59 cents) in the like year-ago period. Analysts had expected earnings of 77 cents per share, according to Thomson First Call.
Sales in the fourth quarter rose 16.5 percent to $1.43 billion, aided in part by strong orders abroad that gave a 25 percent boost to sales primarily because of foreign currency exchanges.
Most of the company's growth is coming from pressure-sensitive labels. The company also shifted a large share of production last year from Hong Kong to mainland China, where it had a 50 percent jump in sales.
Sales also benefited from early orders; the company raised prices on Jan. 1 to offset higher raw materials costs and some customers rushed to beat the deadline.
Nevertheless, there's no slowdown in sight, said Chief Financial Officer Daniel O'Bryant on a conference call. The company said it expects first quarter earnings of 71 cents to 78 cents per share and 8 percent to 10 percent year-to-year revenue growth in the quarter.
"We will continue to grow from the rapid expansion of emerging markets," he said. "We are anticipating that over the next year we could see as much as $60 million in raw material cost increases impact us, and we'll get at least that much in price increases."
O'Bryant reiterated previous company statements that it expects a fine from the European Union's antitrust authority to be "a material number," but he declined to give an estimate to analysts. Others have estimated a potential fine that could reach several hundred million dollars.
European regulators launched a probe last year into anti-competitive practices in Avery's pressure-sensitive materials business. The Justice Department also is investigating.
Avery Dennison said it plans to double its spending to $35 million on radio frequency identification tags, which are embedded with silicon chips and an antenna to transmit data to a wireless device that tracks inventory.
In afternoon trading, Avery shares were up $4.22, or 7.5 percent, to $60.32 on the New York Stock Exchange.
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