WESTMINSTER — Ball Corp. (NYSE: BLL) had net earnings of $179 million on sales of $3.6 billion in its third quarter, down from $241 million on sales of $3.1 billion in the same period last year.
The GAAP net earnings figure included an after-tax charge of $134 million or 40 cents per diluted share “for business consolidation and other non-comparable items,” a press release said. Ball’s third quarter of 2020 also included such charges, of $56 million or 17 cents per diluted share.
Excluding special items, the metals maker and aerospace company said comparable earnings per diluted share in the third quarter were 94 cents, up about 6% from 89 cents year-over-year.
Ball missed consensus estimates and shares dipped about 4%, to a $30.7 billion market cap on Thursday.
Sales in specific markets — North America, South America, EMEA [Europe, the Middle East, Africa] — all rose for Ball’s beverage packaging business.
North America sales in the quarter were $1.5 billion, up from $1.3 billion year-over-year. South America sales hit $462 million compared with $432 million. EMEA sales were $937 million versus $809 million.
Ball said higher aluminum costs passed along to buyers contributed to higher sales. Demand “continues to outstrip supply across North America” and it’s opening manufacturing plants and adding production lines in the region. Volume declined in South America due to weather but “underlying demand remains strong” and the company expects this to continue through year-end.
Global beverage can volumes overall have risen 7% year-to-date, Ball said.
Comparable earnings in Ball’s aerospace segment were $46 million, up from $44 million year-over-year. Sales were $498 million, up from $451 million.
Contracted backlog at Sept. 30 was $2.8 billion; contracts secured but not yet booked totaled $5.1 billion.
Demand for “sustainable aluminum packaging and aerospace technologies continues to outstrip supply,” said chairman and CEO John Hayes in the release. “Growth projects around the world are supported by long-term contracts for committed volume.”
The quarter’s overall “financial benefit of strong underlying demand [was] muted by indirect supply chain costs and inefficiencies,” the company said.
Ball said it returned about $1 billion to shareholders and made $1.5 billion in capital investments in 2021. It expects to return $2 billion to shareholders next year and long-term diluted EPS growth of 10% to 15%.
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