Newell Take Lumps on Q4 Results

Newell Brands (NASDAQ: NWL) got bruised Friday, soon after releasing its fourth-quarter financial results.

Net sales from continuing operations were $2.3 billion, down 6% from the $2.5 billion in the prior year period, reflecting headwinds from the adoption of the new 2018 revenue recognition standard, unfavorable foreign exchange and a decline in core sales.

Diluted earnings per share for the total company were $0.46 compared with $3.38 in the prior-year period. Reported diluted earnings per share from continuing operations were $0.36 versus $3.07 in the prior year period.

Operating cash flow was $498 million compared with $990 million in the prior year period, with the difference attributable to the absence of the operating cash flow contribution from divested businesses, increased cash taxes and transaction-related costs, and a change in the timing of vendor payments relative to the prior year.

According to CEO Michael Polk, "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.

"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.

Shares tumbled $4.42, or 20.4%, to $17.27.