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The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. (NYSE: EL) today reported a strong financial performance for its fourth quarter and fiscal year ended June 30, 2013. For the year, the Company achieved record net sales of $10.18 billion, a 5% increase compared with $9.71 billion in the prior year. Excluding the impact of foreign currency translation, net sales increased 6%. The Company reported a 150 basis-point increase in operating margin, and net earnings for the year rose 19% to $1.02 billion, compared with $856.9 million last year. Diluted net earnings per common share rose 20% to $2.58, compared with $2.16 in the prior year.
The fiscal 2013 full-year results included returns and charges associated with restructuring activities of $17.8 million ($11.7 million after tax), equal to $.03 per diluted common share. Additionally, during the fiscal year, the Company redeemed $230.1 million principal amount of its 7.75% Senior Notes due 2013. As a result, the Company recorded a pre-tax charge to earnings of $19.1 million ($12.2 million after tax), for the impact of the extinguishment of debt, equal to $.03 per diluted common share. The fiscal 2012 full-year results included returns and charges associated with restructuring activities of $63.2 million ($44.1 million after tax), equal to $.11 per diluted common share.
Excluding these returns and charges in fiscal 2013 and 2012, gross margin expanded 70 basis points, operating expenses improved 30 basis points and operating margin rose 100 basis points to 15.2%. Net earnings increased 16% to $1.04 billion, and diluted net earnings per common share rose 16% to $2.64, versus a comparable $2.27 in the prior-year period. A reconciliation between GAAP and non-GAAP financial measures is included in this release.
For the fourth quarter, reported net sales increased 7% to $2.41 billion. Excluding the impact of foreign currency translation, net sales increased 8%. Diluted net earnings per common share rose 84% to $.24. Excluding returns and charges in the fiscal 2013 and 2012 fourth quarters, diluted net earnings per common share rose 41% to $.24, versus a comparable $.17 in the prior-year period.