Black & Decker up in the fourth quarter

In the fourth quarter, Black & Decker announced a 95 percent jump in earnings to $187.4 million from $95.7 million in the same quarter last year. The higher earnings reflect a one-time tax settlement benefit of $153.4 million, the company said in a statement.

Earnings also were affected by a $31.7 million pre-tax charge for an environmental remediation matter and a $19 million pre-tax restructuring charge, the company noted.

Net sales in the fourth quarter were $1.65 billion, up 2.5 percent from $1.61 billion in the same quarter last year.

For all of 2007, the company still saw higher earnings in a difficult year for the industry, up 6.6 percent to $518.1 million from $486.1 million in 2006. Net sales were $6.7 billion, up 1.8 percent from $6.4 billion last year.

"Business conditions continued to deteriorate during the fourth quarter of 2007,” said Nolan Archibald, chairman and CEO of Black & Decker. “For the year, U.S. housing starts were down approximately 25 percent, and we encountered severe commodity cost pressure, both significantly worse than we expected early in 2007.”

He added that while demand in U.S. markets has been weak, the company has seen “outstanding” results in its international market.