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    Wrigley Reports Double-Digit Sales Gains

    North American sales up 3 percent.

    CHICAGO -- The Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. saw record first-quarter sales of $1.26 billion, up 17 percent from the same quarter in 2006. The increase in sales was driven primarily by worldwide shipment growth of 12 percent.

    Net earnings for the quarter of 52 cents per diluted share were up 30 percent or 12 cents from the year-ago period.

    "Our results this quarter reflect solid execution in the marketplace, including the launch of several new products and strong support of our brands around the world," said president and CEO Bill Perez. "We anticipate maintaining our positive momentum through focused investment in our key geographies and upcoming product launches, such as the gum brand 5 in the U.S. marketplace."

    First-quarter sales increased by $181 million over the same quarter last year. Approximately two-thirds of the sales gain was driven by shipment growth across all regions. The positive impact of currency, due to translation of international sales into a relatively weaker U.S. dollar, accounted for the balance of the growth.

    North America net sales were $414 million, up 3 percent on volume gains of 4 percent. Orbit, Orbit White, and Eclipse recorded double- digit gains, and Wrigley's sugar stick brands were up modestly versus a year ago. Extra gum had lower sales in the quarter, with difficult comparisons versus a new product launch in the year-ago period.

    Strong performance by the newly launched Dark Chocolate Dipped Altoids mints was offset by softer sales for Altoids Sours. The LifeSavers brand recorded double-digit sales growth in the quarter as a result of increased shipments, primarily due to the strength of mint and gummy products.

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