JM Smucker, the leading producer of fruit spreads and peanut butter in the US, has posted a 19% rise in net income for the fourth quarter to US$42.5m.

The company’s net sales fell by 2% to $493.5m but Smucker said that excluding businesses sold in September 2006, net sales had risen by 8%.

Smucker said growth in the quarter had been spearheaded by the Jif, Smucker’s, and Pillsbury brands, a strong performance in the foodservice strategic business area, and the contribution of brands acquired earlier in the fiscal year.

“We achieved record earnings for the quarter and the year, with solid growth across most of our brands,” said Richard Smucker, president and co-chief executive officer. “We had a strong finish to the year and have good momentum as we enter our new year.”

Net sales for the full year were up 5% from 2006 after excluding divested businesses, while net income per diluted share was up 13%, the company said.

Smucker said net income for 2007 included restructuring charges of $12.1m, or $0.13 per diluted share, primarily related to the divestiture of its Canadian non-branded businesses.

Net income for the comparable period in 2006 included pre-tax merger and integration costs of $17.9m, or $0.20 per diluted share, and restructuring charges of $10.0m, or $0.12 per diluted share. Excluding these costs in both years, the company’s income per diluted share was $2.89 for 2007, and $2.77 for 2006, the company said.