Hagge continued, “Beauty + Home margins were pressured primarily by underutilized overhead resulting from the soft demand in the U.S. and Europe. In spite of this, our consolidated operating income reached a record fourth quarter level, driven by the profitability and sales growth of our Pharma and Food + Beverage segments. Our quarterly effective tax rate increased to 36.2% compared to 30.4% in the fourth quarter of 2010. The effective tax rate increased because of higher taxes in France of approximately $1.7 million that were primarily due to a retroactive surtax that was enacted by the French government in late December. Reflecting the impact of the higher tax rate, our reported diluted earnings per share reached $.57 per share compared to $.59 per share a year ago.”
Hagge stated, “I am pleased to report that 2011 was a record year for AptarGroup. Each segment reported sales growth over the prior year. We entered new market categories, made investments in our future, expanded our global presence, and ended the year with a strong balance sheet. Sales in 2011 increased 13% to a record $2.34 billion from $2.08 billion a year ago. Changes in exchange rates contributed approximately 4% to the sales growth. Reported diluted earnings per share increased 7% to a record $2.65 per share compared to $2.48 per share a year ago.
Also during the year, we were able to return value to our shareholders through corporate actions. AptarGroup spent approximately $102.6 million to repurchase approximately 2.1 million shares of common stock in 2011, leaving approximately 3.6 million shares authorized for repurchase at the end of the year. In 2011, a total of $53.3 million was paid to stockholders in the form of dividends, or $.80 per share. This reflects the 22% increase in the quarterly dividend approved by the Board in July of 2011.”