Chris Conway, CLARCOR’s Chief Executive Officer, commented, “We capped off another successful year with record fourth quarter results. We are particularly proud of our 17.8% operating margin in the fourth quarter—almost two percentage points higher than last year’s fourth quarter and our highest quarterly operating margin since 1991. This operating margin improvement combined with our continued sales growth facilitated our fourth quarter being the eighth consecutive quarter where we exceeded our previous year’s quarterly diluted earnings per share by at least 15%. Once again, this consistent success is a result of the continued execution of our long-term strategy including a commitment to sustainable sales growth, cost containment and continuous improvement.
“All of our reporting segments contributed to our strong full year 2011 financial performance. Supported by the continued strength of our Baldwin heavy-duty engine filter business, our Engine/Mobile Filtration segment grew sales 14% and improved its operating margin 1.4 percentage points. Our Industrial/Environmental Filtration segment increased sales 11% and exceeded its 2011 operating margin goal of 10% by more than a full percentage point. Our Packaging segment improved its operating margin by 1.7 percentage points despite relatively flat sales. The stronger performance at each of our reporting segments enabled our consolidated operating margin to improve to 16.1%, the highest level in twenty years.
“This 2011 success would not have been possible without our continued focus on profitable growth. Our sales growth in 2011 was geographically balanced—U.S. sales grew 12% and foreign sales grew 11%. Our foreign sales growth was driven by a 19% increase in sales in our Engine/Mobile Filtration segment in part due to increased sales in China. Despite a temporary reduction in heavy-duty engine filter sales in the third quarter of 2011, sales in China returned to expected levels in the fourth quarter and increased by 29% for the full year. Going forward, we intend to continue to focus on growth both in the U.S. and abroad through the introduction of new filtration solutions while leveraging the strength of our existing products and technologies.