Acushnet Co. parent posts 39% rise in earnings per share

Fortune Brands Inc. today reported earnings per share growth of 39 percent in 2006, as well as a fourth-quarter per-share profit increase of 38 percent, the company’s 22nd consecutive quarter of year-over-year gains.

Fairhaven, Mass.-based Acushnet Co. – Fortune Brands’ golf products division, whose brands include Titleist, Cobra, FootJoy and Pinnacle – posted 2006 sales of $1.313 billion, up 3.8 percent from 2005. Operating income on the year amounted to $166 million, a decrease of 3.2 percent compared with 2005.

Sales increased 7.9 percent in the fourth quarter to $217.6 million. And although the company posted an operating loss of $4.8 million for the period, it was an improvement from the $6.4 million loss in the year-ago quarter.

For the year, Deerfield, Ill.-based Fortune Brands reported net income of $824.3 million, an increase of 32.7 percent. Earnings per diluted share totaled $5.39 per diluted share, up 39 percent from 2005’s $3.87 per diluted share.

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Net sales on the year were $8.77 billion, up 24.2 percent from 2005, while sales for the fourth quarter showed a 16.2-percent increase to $2.28 billion. Excluding a one-time tax gain of 31 cents per share and restructuring costs of 8 cents per share, Fortune Brands earned $1.39 per share, which Bloomberg News said beat the $1.35 forecast by analyst Michael Rehaut of JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Fortune Brands shares fell $1.89, or 2.3 percent, to $81.07 at 4:03 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading, their biggest drop in seven months, Bloomberg said.

Fortune Brands Inc.’ complete fourth-quarter and full-year 2006 filing is posted online, and can be found via www.fortunebrands.com.