DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
Bemis Co.'s (BMS) fourth-quarter profit more than doubled as the food-and-beverage packaging company's $1.2 billion March acquisition of Alcan Packaging Food Americas from Rio Tinto PLC (RTP, RIO.LN) boosted its top line.
But the company gave cautious guidance, forecasting per-share earnings of 50 cents to 55 cents for the current quarter and $2.33 to $2.48 a share for the year. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters most recently projected 56 cents and $2.47 a share for the current quarter and year respectively.
Package and container makers have been reporting mixed results of late. Packaging Corp. of America (PKG) last week reported a 6.5% drop in profit and a weak current-quarter outlook. And Sealed Air Corp.'s (SEE) profit also declined, though that was largely on a debt-redemption charge, while revenue rose across its business lines and margins edged up.
Packaging makers that serve the food industry, such as Bemis, have fared better than those geared to other sectors during the recession, as consumers ate more meals at home.
Bemis reported a profit of $53.3 million, or 48 cents a share, up from $26.2 million, or 23 cents, a year earlier. Excluding acquisition and other charges, earnings from continuing operations rose to 49 cents from 45 cents. In October, the company projected earnings of 48 cents to 53 cents, below analysts' estimates at the time.
Net sales jumped 38% to $1.25 billion on acquisition contributions. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected $1.27 billion.
Gross margin narrowed to 18.5% from 19.6%.
Net sales climbed 44% at its flexible-packaging unit, its largest top-line contributor, as earnings increased 41%.
Shares closed at $32.55 on Monday and were inactive premarket.
-By Matt Jarzemsky and Lee Roberts, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2240; firstname.lastname@example.org