"In the fourth quarter, solid sales growth in our North America and EMEA regions was partially offset by a continued softer spending environment in China. Earnings per share were at the low end of our guidance range due to tariff expenses and a higher mix of large year-end budget orders, each of which impacted gross margin,” said Anders Gustafsson, CEO of Zebra Technologies. “We entered 2020 with a strong order backlog and our pipeline of opportunities is solid. Our core portfolio offering continues to resonate well in the market. At the same time, we are making good progress broadening our role as a solutions provider, investing in capabilities that digitize and automate our customers’ enterprise operations."
Net sales were $1,192 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, a 4.8% increase from the prior year period, reflecting growth in North America and EMEA, partially offset by lower sales in Asia-Pacific. Consolidated organic net sales growth for the fourth quarter was 4.6%. Net sales in the Enterprise Visibility & Mobility (EVM) segment were $813 million in the fourth quarter of 2019 compared with $770 million in the fourth quarter of 2018. Asset Intelligence & Tracking (AIT) segment net sales were $379 million in the fourth quarter of 2019 compared to $367 million in the prior year period. Fourth-quarter year-over-year organic net sales growth was 6.3% in the EVM segment and 1.2% in the AIT segment.
Fourth-quarter 2019 gross profit was $544 million compared to $539 million in the comparable prior year period. Gross margin decreased to 45.6% for the fourth quarter of 2019, compared to 47.4% in the prior year period. This decrease was primarily due to $10 million net incremental cost of sales attributable to Section 301 List 4 tariffs and unfavorable business mix. Adjusted gross margin decreased to 45.8% for the fourth quarter of 2019, compared to 47.7% in the prior year period.
Net income for the fourth quarter of 2019 was $169 million, or $3.10 per diluted share, compared to net income of $115 million, or $2.11 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2018. Lower interest expense and effective tax rate contributed to the year-over-year improvement. Adjusted EBITDA for the fourth quarter of 2019 increased to $255 million, or 21.4% of adjusted net sales, compared to $240 million, or 21.1% of adjusted net sales, for the fourth quarter of 2018 due to lower operating expenses.
As of Dec. 31, 2019, the company had cash and cash equivalents of $30 million and total debt of $1,286 million.
For the full year 2019, the company had $4.485 billion in sales, up 6.3% from 2018. Gross profit was up 6% to $539 million. Zebra generated $685 million of operating cash flow and incurred capital expenditures of $61 million, generating free cash flow of $624 million. In 2019, the company made $312 million of net debt repayments and $63 million of cash interest payments, as well as paid $262 million in cash for the acquisitions of Cortexica, Temptime, and Profitect.