K-C Kimberly-Clark, Dallas, TX, has reported sales and earnings results for the fourth quarter and full year of 2007. Net sales in the fourth quarter improved 10.5% to $4.8 billion, setting a new quarterly record. Highlights included continued strong growth in developing and emerging markets, where sales climbed more than 20%, and double-digit volume gains for several of the company's well-known personal care brands in North America. Overall, organic sales growth totaled approximately 6%, mainly driven by higher sales volumes, while changes in currency exchange rates also benefited sales by nearly 5%.
For the year, sales of $18.3 billion were up 9% from $16.7 billion in the prior year, as a result of a 4% increase in sales volumes, improvements of approximately 1% in both net selling prices and product mix and favorable currency effects of nearly 3%. Year-to-date operating profit was $2.6 billion compared with $2.1 billion in 2006.
In the area of personal care products, sales climbed 16.4% in the fourth quarter. Sales volume growth exceeded 10% and net selling prices improved about 1%, while currency effects added approximately 5% to sales. Personal care sales in North America went up about 13% compared with the fourth quarter of 2006, driven by a more than 10% increase in overall sales volumes. Volume growth was broad-based, as product innovations helped drive double-digit volume gains for Huggies diapers and baby wipes and for the company's child care brands, with particular strength in higher-margin, super premium product offerings. Child care volumes benefited from continued growth of Pull-Ups training pants and the third quarter introduction of GoodNites Sleep Boxers and Sleep Shorts in the youth pants category. Meanwhile, sales volumes of the company's Depend and Poise incontinence care brands rose 7% and Kotex feminine care volumes were up slightly compared with the year-ago quarter.