Consolidated net sales totaled $399.9 million and $390.9 million for the three months ended December 31, 2017 and 2016, respectively. Composite Fibers’ and Advanced Airlaid Materials’ net sales increased, on a constant currency basis, by 7.7% and 3.1%, respectively. Specialty Papers’ net sales declined 6.9% in the quarter-over-quarter comparison.
Advanced Airlaid Materials’ net sales increased $4.8 million in the quarter-over-quarter comparison primarily due to a 2.4% increase in shipping volumes from continued growth of personal hygiene and wipes products and $2.9 million favorable impact from currency translation.
“Our fourth-quarter operating performance reflects continued strength of our engineered materials businesses,” says Dante C. Parrini, chairman and CEO. “Composite Fibers delivered a 22% increase in operating income compared with the fourth quarter of 2016. Earnings were driven by strong volume growth of 18%, as well as improved operating efficiencies and cost optimization initiatives. Advanced Airlaid Materials grew operating profit by 9% over the fourth quarter a year ago with shipments up 2%. Demand for our airlaid products remains strong as this business brings new capacity to the market, with shipments from Fort Smith, Arkansas on schedule for the first quarter. Our fourth quarter’s results, on an adjusted earnings basis, also benefited from an unusually low effective tax rate of 6.7%.”
According to Parrini, Glatfelter’s Specialty Papers business continues to face challenging market conditions, and the board and management team will conduct a strategic review process for this segment. As a result, the company may sell the Specialty Papers business.