from $80,506 in 2019 to $70,763 in 2019, a decrease of $9,743 or 12.1%. The above discussed decline in net product sales was the principal driver of lower operating income in 2020 compared to 2019, however, 2020 earnings from operations did benefit from some cost and expense reductions as discussed above.
Management believes the comparisons presented in the preceding paragraphs, after adjusting for changes in deferred compensation, are more reflective of the underlying operations of the Company.
Other income, net was $18,018 in 2020 compared to $16,190 in 2019, an increase of $1,828. Other income, net principally reflects $12,519 and $11,292 of aggregate net gains and investment income on trading securities in 2020 and 2019, respectively. These trading securities provide an economic hedge of the Company’s deferred compensation liabilities; and the related net gains and investment income were offset by a like amount of expense in aggregate product cost of goods sold and selling, marketing, and administrative expenses in the respective years as discussed above. Other income, net includes investment income on available for sale securities of $4,005 and $4,423 in 2020 and 2019, respectively. Other income, net also includes foreign exchange gains (losses) of $534 and $(533) in 2020 and 2019, respectively.
The Company’s effective income tax rate was 22.7% and 24.1% in 2020 and 2019, respectively. The decrease in the effective tax rate in 2020 reflects more favorable foreign tax rates, income tax credits and adjustments for reserves for uncertain tax positions.
The Company utilized $617 and $1,227 of Canadian tax carry-forward benefits in 2020 and 2019, respectively. At December 31, 2019, the Company’s deferred tax assets included $617 of income tax benefits relating to its Canadian subsidiary tax loss carry-forwards. The Company fully utilized this deferred tax asset in 2020 as expected. The Company provided a full valuation allowance on its Spanish subsidiaries’ tax loss carry-forward benefits of $4,508 and $4,584 as of December 31, 2020 and 2019, respectively, because the Company concluded that it is not more-likely-than-not that these losses will be utilized before their expiration dates.
On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act was signed into U.S. law. The CARES Act has provided a substantial stimulus and assistance package intended to address the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, including tax relief and government loans, grants and investments. The Canadian government also enacted a stimulus program, Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (“CEWS”), to respond to the economic impact of Covid-19 during 2020. The Company’s financial results in 2020 did reflect some benefits, primarily in the second and third quarters of 2020, from these stimulus programs.
Net earnings were $58,995 in 2020 compared to $64,920 in 2019, and net earnings per share were $0.86 and $0.94 in 2020 and 2019, respectively, a decrease of $0.08 per share of 9%. Earnings per share in 2020 benefited from the reduction in average shares outstanding resulting from purchases of the Company’s common stock in the open market by the Company. Average shares outstanding decreased from 69,386 in 2019 to 68,482 in 2020 which reflects share repurchases of $32,055 during 2020.
Fourth quarter 2020 and 2019 net earnings attributable to Tootsie Roll Industries, Inc. were $14,952 and $14,555, respectively, and net earnings per share were $0.22 and $0.21, respectively, an increase of $0.01 per share or 5%. Certain cost and expense reductions, including Company operational changes and initiatives to reduce costs as discussed above, did provide some benefit to fourth quarter 2020 results. Although unfavorable foreign exchange adversely affected fourth quarter 2020 results, a lower effective income tax rate contributed to the increase in net earnings in fourth quarter 2020 compared to fourth quarter 2019.
Our Company is focused on the longer term and therefore we are continuing to make investments in plant manufacturing operations to meet new consumer and customer product demands, achieve product quality improvements, and increase operational efficiencies in order to provide genuine value to consumers. We are continuing to focus on the supply chain and possible delays and disruptions, but this area continues to have much less predictability compared to past history. The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, including variants and sub-variants, are unprecedented, and therefore the Company is unable to determine the related effects on its sales and net earnings in 2022 and beyond.