The Writing segment net sales for the fourth quarter were $344.5 million, a 2.0 percent increase compared with the prior year quarter. Core sales in the segment increased 2.4 percent. The improvement was largely driven by strong growth in Latin America attributable to the launch of Paper Mate® InkJoy® in that region and share gains in North America on Paper Mate, Sharpie®, and Expo®. Operating income in Writing was $55.6 million, or 16.1 percent of sales, compared with $55.5 million, or 16.4 percent of sales, in the prior year. The 30 basis point decline was attributable to favorable mix, offset by input cost inflation and advertising and promotion support behind the launch of Sharpie Metallics, Sharpie’s music partnership with One Direction, and the 125 th anniversary of Parker.
The Tools segment net sales for the fourth quarter were $209.5 million, a 3.6 percent increase compared with the prior year quarter. Core sales in the segment increased 6.0 percent. The improved performance was driven by strong growth in emerging markets, particularly Latin America. Operating income in the Tools segment was $23.8 million, or 11.4 percent of sales, compared with $30.3 million, or 15.0 percent of sales, in the prior year. Improved productivity was more than offset by unfavorable mix, inflation and ongoing investment in sales force expansion in Latin America and an increase in customer programs.
The Commercial Products segment net sales for the fourth quarter were $188.6 million, a 0.9 percent increase compared with the prior year quarter. Core sales in the segment increased 1.3 percent. The improvement was primarily driven by strong performance in North America, particularly in Rubbermaid Healthcare. Operating income in the Commercial Products segment was $22.0 million, or 11.7 percent of sales, compared with $27.8 million, or 14.9 percent of sales, in the prior year. Favorable productivity was more than offset by ongoing investment in sales capabilities in emerging markets and increased merchandising investment in North America behind the Rubbermaid Commercial Products refuse and recycling businesses.
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