Newell Brands has announced its fourth quarter and full year 2018 financial results, revealing a return to growth for its Learning & Development segment, in which writing instruments are included.
Michael Polk, president and chief executive officer of Newell Brands, commented: “Newell Brands’ fourth quarter results reflect solid progress as we continue to execute the Accelerated Transformation Plan (ATP) announced one year ago.
“We were encouraged by the sequential improvement in core sales growth across all segments, the return to growth of our Learning & Development segment driven by building momentum on Writing, and solid margin expansion as a result of continued diligent cost management and pricing.”
The Learning & Development segment generated net sales of $707 million compared with $730 million in the prior year period, as strong core sales growth in Writing was more than offset by the negative impacts of unfavourable foreign exchange, the adoption of the new 2018 revenue recognition standard and a core sales decline for Baby related to the continued negative impact of the Toys ‘R’ Us bankruptcy.
Polk continues: “We returned $1.1 billion to our shareholders through dividends and share repurchases and paid down $2.6 billion in debt during the quarter, exiting the year at our targeted leverage ratio.
"We’ve planned 2019 to be another year of significant portfolio and organization transformation. We intend to drive the ATP to completion in 2019, and despite the ongoing negative impact of retailer bankruptcies, foreign exchange, inflation and tariffs, we expect to stabilize and then reignite core sales growth, increase margins, and strengthen the operational and financial performance of the company.”