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Bemis' cost cuts lift 4Q profit despite sales drop

NEENAH, Wis. (AP) -- Food packaging maker Bemis said Thursday that its fourth-quarter net income jumped 76 percent, despite lower sales, as it cut costs. Its adjusted results beat Wall Street's view.

The company earned $40.1 million, or 38 cents per share, compared with $22.8 million, or 22 cents per share, in the prior-year period.

Taking out costs to consolidate factories, mark down equipment value and other items, earnings were 52 cents per share. Analysts surveyed by FactSet forecast earnings of 50 cents per share.

The company's costs to make its products fell 5 percent to $997.8 million, and it said it sold more of its higher-profit products.

Revenue for the three months ended Dec. 31 fell 3 percent to $1.23 billion from $1.27 billion, hampered by the stronger dollar. Overseas sales take a hit when the dollar rises. The performance was in line with Wall Street's expectations.

For the year, Bemis Co. earned $173.8 million, or $1.66 per share. That's down 6 percent from $184.1 million, or $1.73 per share, in the previous year. Revenue declined 3 percent to $5.14 billion from $5.32 billion.

Looking ahead, Bemis expected first-quarter adjusted earnings of 50 cents to 56 cents per share, in line with analysts' prediction of 54 cents per share. The Neenah, Wis., company's profit prediction for year was $2.30 to $2.45 per share, mostly above analysts' estimate of $2.34 per share.

Shares of Bemis added 11 cents to $35.87 in morning trading.