Wrigley has announced third quarter earnings up 15 per cent, following an impressive 12 per cent growth in its global sales, which were further strengthened by the weakness of the US dollar.
The manufacturer of chewing gum, mints and breath strips reported that global sales for the third quarter rose to $783 million ($672m), an increase of $83 million from a year ago.
Sales in the Americas region were up 8 per cent on a 4 per cent volume gain during the quarter due to sales contribution from the US and Canada, which were up 9 per cent and 18 per cent, and Latin America, which enjoyed a double-digit gain. Positive US product mix - particularly from Orbit and new Juicy Fruit pellets - was also a strong contributor to the sales gain, the company said.
Double-digit sales gains across Europe Middle East Africa and India (EMEAI), the Pacific and Asia led to an overall international sales increase of 15 per cent for the quarter. The company pointed out that a particularly strong gain was seen in Asia following the passing of the SARS crisis. International sales gains also benefited from favourable currency exchange rates. On a currency neutral basis, international sales were up 7 per cent in the quarter.
For the nine months, consolidated net sales were $2.25 billion, up $241 million or 12 per cent from 2002. Sales in the Americas were up 6 per cent, while international sales grew by 17 per cent. At constant currency, Americas sales were up 5 per cent and international sales were up 6 per cent.
Overall, consolidated third quarter net earnings of $113 million were up $15 million or 15 per cent, which included costs incurred following the investigation into a possible bid for competitor Hershey. On a currency neutral basis, earnings per share were up or 7 per cent.
During the third quarter, Wrigley introduced several new items in the US, including two new Juicy Fruit offerings in pellet form and two new flavours of Orbit. Distribution of Wrigley breath strips was expanded across Central Europe and parts of Eastern Europe, where consumer response was reported to be "very positive" by the company.
In September, Wrigley introduced new Extra mints in the UK. Building on the introduction of its breath strip products, this offering will extend Wrigley's participation in the breath-freshening segment and expand its representation in the overall confectionery category in the UK. A new mint for the US, under the Eclipse brand, is currently being introduced to the trade and will begin shipping in January 2004.
The famously shy Wrigley executives also announced that they will be making a rare public announcement during an analysts meeting to be held on later today, during which time the results and the company's strategic business plan will be discussed.
The Wrigley Company is a leader in the confectionery field and the world's largest manufacturer and marketer of chewing gum, with global sales of over $2.7 billion. The company markets its brands in over 150 countries.