US chewing gum maker Wm Wrigley Jr Company has reported higher net earnings and sales for the third quarter and said its core business was performing well.

The company posted net earnings of US$129.7m, or 57 cents per share, for the three months to 30 September, compared to $125.8m, or 56 cents per share, for the year-ago period.

Net earnings included a restructuring charge of 2 cents related to a previously announced supply chain realignment. Earnings also reflected the slightly dilutive impact of the company's acquisition of the Altoids, Life Savers, Creme Savers and Sugus brands on 26 June 2005.

Net sales rose to $1.06bn from $916.7m in the third quarter of last year. In addition to solid core gum volumes, Wrigley's new confectionery brands contributed about two-thirds of the volume gain in the quarter.

"Wrigley's core business is performing well around the globe. The integration of the Altoids, Life Savers, Creme Savers and Sugus brands is going smoothly, and we are investing in and laying the strategic groundwork for reenergising these brands," said Ron Waters, chief operating officer.

"As expected, the acquisition of the new brands, including the impact of interest expense, was slightly dilutive in the period, and the restructuring costs associated with our supply chain realignment also negatively impacted earnings.  We are confident that the successful execution of these two major initiatives will make us a stronger competitor in the broader confectionery arena and contribute to long-term stockholder value," he added.