Colgate-Palmolive ( CL) said Tuesday that its fourth-quarter earnings jumped 11%, boosted by margin improvements and top line growth across all of its divisions.

The consumer products maker's net income rose to $401.2 million, or 73 cents a share, from $361.2 million, or 65 cents a share, a year earlier.

The latest quarter's results included a $65.1 million restructuring charge and a $38.2 million gain on the sale of its Canadian bleach business.

Excluding those items, and including 2 cents in stock option costs, earnings were 78 cents a share. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial projected earnings of 77 cents a share, including stock options.

The company, whose brands include Colgate toothpaste, Irish Spring soap and Ajax cleaner, said sales rose to $3.21 billion from $2.9 billion a year earlier. Wall Street anticipated sales of $3.12 billion.

In North America, sales rose 7% to $657.7 million. The company said the growth was aided by new products like Colgate Luminous Mint Twist toothpaste and Softsoap Brand Pure Cashmere body wash.

Meanwhile, the company's biggest sales growth came in Latin America, where sales rose 14% to $816.4 million. The region was the company's biggest contributor to sales, consisting of 25% of Colgate's total top line.

Colgate-Palmolive's gross profit margins for the quarter, before the charge, rose 60 basis points to 56.6%, an all-time record.

"The increase in gross profit margin and other savings programs funded a double-digit increase in advertising supporting Colgate brands while still delivering higher than expected operating profit and earnings per share growth for the quarter," the company said. "We expect the positive gross profit momentum to continue into 2007 as a result of our ongoing savings programs, the growing benefits from restructuring and the continuing shift toward higher margin products."

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