ATLANTA (AP) _ RJR Nabisco Inc. Monday reported an 18 percent increase in its fourth- quarter earnings, rebounding from the costs of a corporate streamlining and retirement of high-cost debt that affected earnings for the same period in 1986.

The Atlanta-based company reported net income for the fourth quarter of $370 million, compared to $314 million in 1986. That equals $1.46 per share, up from $1.21 per share.

Consolidated net sales were $4.4 billion for the quarter, up 5 percent from 1986 net sales of $4.2 billion. Operating income for the quarter, which totaled $745 million, was up 10 percent from the fourth quarter 1986 figure of $679 million.

RJR Nabisco reported net income for the year of $1.2 billion, or $4.70 per share, up 14 percent from $1.1 billion, or $3.83 per share, in 1986. The company said the costs of restructuring and debt retirement were offset by the sale of its spirits subsidiary, Heublein Inc., to Grand Metropolitan PLC.

F. Ross Johnson, president and chief executive officer of RJR Nabisco, said the earnings results reflect the success of the company's strategy of building on the strength of its leading brands.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco USA recorded a 3 percent increase in sales for the year, while operating income rose 10 percent. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco International saw sales go up by 28 percent, while operating income rose 9 percent. Strong unit volume growth was a factor in Tobacco International's rise in sales, company officials said.

RJR Nabisco's foods operations reported 1987 sales of $9.4 billion, up 2 percent compared to 1986 sales of $9.2 billion. Operating income rose 12 percent to $915 million, up from $820 million in 1986.

RJR Nabisco's foods operations include Nabisco Brands, Del Monte and Planters LifeSavers.

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