Neenah Paper, Inc. (NYSE:NP) today reported earnings from continuing operations of $0.47 per diluted common share in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared to adjusted earnings of $0.30 per share in the fourth quarter of 2010. Excluding adjustments, earnings in the fourth quarter of 2010 were $0.43 per share and included a $0.13 per share gain from the sale of a paper mill in Ripon, California.
Net sales of $165.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2011 grew three percent compared with the prior year period, while operating income of $13.6 million increased 36 percent from adjusted operating income of $10.0 million in the fourth quarter of 2010. The improvement in operating income and margins in 2011 resulted from higher volumes, increased selling prices and improved manufacturing cost efficiencies.
For the full year, 2011 net sales of $696.0 million were up six percent versus the prior year, while adjusted operating income of $59.0 million grew 14 percent. Adjusted earnings per diluted common share increased 30 percent, from $1.47 in 2010 to $1.91 in 2011. Adjusted earnings is a non-GAAP measure and is reconciled to comparable GAAP measures later in this release.
“Both our Technical Products and Fine Paper businesses finished the year with growth in revenues and significant improvement in profit levels. Cash flow generated from these higher earnings and disciplined working capital management was used to reduce net debt by more than $13 million in the quarter,” said John O’Donnell, Chief Executive Officer. “For the full year, our performance reflected successful strategy execution with growth in key markets, expanded operating margins, a cadence of high-return capital investments and significantly lower debt. As we enter 2012, our businesses are well-positioned for continued improvement despite the current economic uncertainty in Europe. In addition, we are excited by the market opportunities made possible by our recent acquisition of Wausau’s premium fine paper brands.”