ST. PAUL, Minn. -- H.B. Fuller Co. has reported net earnings for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 2, 2000 of $14.3 million or $1.01 per share (diluted). Last year's fourth quarter net earnings were $18.8 million or $1.34 per share (diluted), excluding nonrecurring restructuring charges and the effects of an accounting change. The reduction in earnings was mainly caused by the increased cost of raw materials and the continued weakness of the Euro.

"This quarter continued to present us with challenges in the areas of raw material costs, competitive pricing and slowing demand,” said Al Stroucken, chairman, president and CEO. “We believe that these difficult conditions will persist well into the new year and will require us to be steadfast in our drive to recover margins while maintaining our customers' loyalty."

Total year 2000 net earnings were $49.0 million compared to 1999 earnings of $56.8 million. Earnings per share were $3.47 per share (diluted) compared to $4.06 per share (diluted) last year.

Sales for the quarter amounted to $361.1 million, a 1.1% increase over the fourth quarter last year. Negative currency effects accounted for a 4% decline. The impact from currency was offset by volume increases of 3.8% and price increases of 1.1%.

For the full year of 2000, sales were $1,352.6 million, down 0.9% from $1,364.5 million in 1999. Currency accounted for a 2.3% reduction in sales, which more than offset the impact of the 53rd week.

Sales of the North American adhesives business increased 6.3%. Pricing was up 2.1% and volume increased 4.3%. European sales decreased 10.2% compared to last year. Weakness in the Euro against the U.S. dollar had a negative 15.9% impact. Volume increased 3.5% while selling prices increased 2.2%. Latin American sales decreased 0.4% compared to last year.