“The fourth quarter of 2016 was a pivotal quarter in our history as we completed the previously announced spinoffs of LSC Communications and Donnelley Financial Solutions at the beginning of the quarter and then began operating as a standalone company intensely focused on providing integrated multichannel communications, supply chain and logistics solutions to our customers,” said Dan Knotts, RR Donnelley’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “We are pleased with our fourth quarter results as we grew both our net sales and non-GAAP income from operations. And, although we exited the spin with debt leverage above our long-term target range, we remain on track to utilize the proceeds from disposing of our equity stakes in LSC Communications and Donnelley Financial Solutions, as well as cash generated from ongoing operating activities, to reduce our outstanding debt obligations.”
Unless otherwise noted, today’s results represent RR Donnelley as a standalone company following the October 1, 2016 spinoffs of LSC and Donnelley Financial which are now presented as discontinued operations for periods prior to October 1. Further, all references to the number of shares and per share amounts have been retroactively adjusted to give effect to the one-for-three reverse stock split which took place October 1, 2016 immediately following the spinoffs.
Fourth Quarter 2016 Highlights
Net sales in the quarter were $1.88 billion, up $67.0 million or 3.7% from the fourth quarter of 2015. This increase was primarily due to $80.4 million in net sales previously recognized by reporting units that are now part of LSC and Donnelley Financial and $14.0 million from the previously announced acquisition of Precision Dialogue, partially offset by a negative $16.1 million impact from changes in foreign exchange rates, a $6.3 million reduction related to dispositions completed earlier in the year and a consolidated net organic sales decline of 0.4%. The decline in net organic sales was primarily driven by increased volume in the International and Strategic Services segments which was more than offset by lower postage pass through sales in Strategic Services, price declines across all three segments and lower volume in the Variable Print segment.
Gross profit in the fourth quarter of 2016 was $363.7 million or 19.4% of net sales versus $373.6 million or 20.6% of net sales in the 2015 quarter. Continued cost reductions were more than offset by modest price pressure in most product categories, unfavorable product mix and a one-time charge in the logistics reporting unit within the Strategic Services segment.
Selling, general and administrative expenses (“SG&A”) of $219.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2016 were up slightly from the 2015 reported amount of $217.3 million. Cost reductions and benefits from allocation differences due to the spinoffs were more than offset by higher spinoff-related expenses and additional expenses associated with higher net sales in 2016. As a percentage of net sales, SG&A was 11.7% in the fourth quarter of 2016 which improved from 12.0% reported in the fourth quarter of 2015.
Net loss from continuing operations of $488.1 million in the fourth quarter increased from a $16.1 million loss reported in the fourth quarter of 2015. The 2016 results included pre-tax charges of $560.0 million for net restructuring, impairment and other charges as compared to $13.0 million in 2015. The impairment charges in 2016 primarily related to goodwill and intangible assets in two reporting units within the Variable Print segment. On a non-GAAP basis, net earnings from continuing operations of $36.3 million decreased $1.0 million from the $37.3 million reported in the fourth quarter of 2015 and was primarily driven by higher income from operations and non-operating income and lower interest expense which were more than offset by a higher effective tax rate in the fourth quarter of 2016 primarily due to a charge to record a valuation allowance on certain state deferred tax assets.
Fourth quarter 2016 diluted loss per share from continuing operations of $6.98 compares to $0.24 from the fourth quarter of 2015. Excluding non-GAAP adjustments primarily consisting of restructuring, impairment and other charges recorded in both periods, non-GAAP diluted earnings per share from continuing operations decreased $0.02 to $0.51 in 2016 from $0.53 in 2015 primarily due to the higher effective tax rate.