Process segment sales for the quarter increased 2 percent (4 percent at consistent translation rates). An increase of 6 percent in the Americas offset decreases of 9 percent in EMEA and 1 percent in Asia Pacific (both flat at consistent translation rates). Sales for the year in this segment were down 3 percent (1 percent at consistent translation rates), including decreases of 1 percent in the Americas, 5 percent in EMEA (flat at consistent translation rates) and 6 percent in Asia Pacific (4 percent at consistent translation rates). Operating margin rate improved in the fourth quarter, with higher sales volume and gross margin rate. For the year, operating margin rate decreased compared to last year due to lower sales volume and unfavorable expense leverage.
Contractor segment sales for the quarter increased 17 percent, with increases of 17 percent in the Americas, 19 percent in EMEA and 8 percent in Asia Pacific. Sales for the year increased 9 percent, with increases of 9 percent in the Americas and 18 percent in EMEA, partially offset by a 3 percent decrease in Asia Pacific. Operating margin rate improved in the fourth quarter, with higher sales volume, improved gross margin rate and favorable expense leverage. Operating margin rates decreased slightly compared to last year due to unfavorable expense leverage and product and channel mix.
“Today we are initiating our full-year 2017 outlook of low single-digit organic sales growth on a constant currency basis worldwide, with low single-digit growth expected in each geographic region of the world,” stated McHale. “Graco is focused on achieving full-year sales growth in all geographic regions and reportable segments. Our Process segment experienced headwinds throughout 2016 and remains a source of caution as we enter 2017, despite easier comparables, while the outlook for our Contractor segment is for mid single-digit sales growth in 2017.”
Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Statements
The Company desires to take advantage of the “safe harbor” provisions regarding forward-looking statements of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and is filing this Cautionary Statement in order to do so. From time to time various forms filed by our Company with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including our Form 10-K, Form 10-Qs and Form 8-Ks, and other disclosures, including our 2015 Overview report, press releases, earnings releases, analyst briefings, conference calls and other written documents or oral statements released by our Company, may contain forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements generally use words such as “expect,” “foresee,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “project,” “should,” “estimate,” “will,” and similar expressions, and reflect our Company’s expectations concerning the future. All forecasts and projections are forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are based upon currently available information, but various risks and uncertainties may cause our Company’s actual results to differ materially from those expressed in these statements. The Company undertakes no obligation to update these statements in light of new information or future events.
Future results could differ materially from those expressed due to the impact of changes in various factors. These risk factors include, but are not limited to: our Company’s growth strategies, which include making acquisitions, investing in new products, expanding geographically and targeting new industries; economic conditions in the United States and other major world economies; changes in currency translation rates; changes in laws and regulations; compliance with anti-corruption laws; new entrants who copy our products or infringe on our intellectual property; risks incident to conducting business internationally; the ability to meet our customers’ needs and changes in product demand; supply interruptions or delays; security breaches; the possibility of asset impairments if acquired businesses do not meet performance expectations; political instability; results of and costs associated with, litigation, administrative proceedings and regulatory reviews incident to our business as well as indemnification claims under our asset purchase agreement with Carlisle Companies Incorporated, Carlisle Fluid Technologies, Inc., and Finishing Brands Holdings Inc.; the possibility of decline in purchases from few