Ball’s Q2 earnings up; more aerospace hiring expected

BROOMFIELD — Ball Corp. (NYSE: BLL) reported Thursday that second quarter 2018 net earnings attributable to the corporation were $119 million, or 34 cents per diluted share, on sales of $3.1 billion, compared to $99 million net earnings attributable to the corporation, or 28 cents per diluted share, on sales of $2.9 billion in 2017.

Results for the first six months of 2018 were net earnings attributable to the corporation of $244 million, or 68 cents per diluted share, on sales of $5.89 billion compared with $167 million, or 47 cents per diluted share, on sales of $5.33 billion for the first six months of 2017.

Earnings per share figures include the impact of the company’s two-for-one stock split effective May 16, 2017.

“Positive momentum in our businesses continues. Our improved second quarter results were driven by excellent operational performance, solid global demand for environmentally friendly aluminum packaging, achieving more value for our innovative packages and lower corporate costs,” said John A. Hayes, chairman, president and chief executive officer, in a statement accompanying the quarterly report.

“Anticipated startup costs, out-of-pattern freight and declines in our U.S. beverage can volumes, as well as the short-term impact from the Brazilian truckers’ strike, were effectively managed by the respective businesses during the quarter and we expect that these issues should moderate in the second half,” Hayes said.

“We successfully ramped up production at two new beverage can facilities during the quarter, advanced progress on network optimization projects to align our beverage can portfolio in the U.S. and Brazil, and our aerospace business continued to secure additional contracts to further grow our contracted backlog.”

In North and Central America, the company reported growth in Mexican beer imports, craft, carbonated soft drinks, energy and sparkling water uses for its products but a decline in U.S. “megabeer” uses.

In South America, Brazilian volumes were up 4 percent as a result of increases in beer consumption and a shift away from glass to beverage cans.

In Europe, results reflected “the favorable impact of continental Europe and Russian beverage can demand and ongoing operational efficiencies,” the report said.

Food and aerosol packaging showed improvements at least partially attributable to higher food can demand in advance of tariffs.

The aerospace segment finished the second quarter with increased contracted backlog of $1.85 billion following the recent contract award of the Wide Field Instrument (WFI) Optical Mechanical Assembly (WOMA) for NASA’s next observatory designed to answer  questions in the areas of dark energy, exoplanets and infrared astrophysics using the WFI.

Year-to-date, the company has hired approximately 540 people into the aerospace sector with an additional 200 to 400 employees required within the next 12 months, the company said. Colorado facility expansions in Westminster and Boulder are on track for completion in the fourth quarter of 2018.