Gross profit for 2013 rose to $1,342 million over the $1,277 million in 2012. The increase in gross profit primarily reflects increased beverage can sales, lower depreciation expense and $10 million of favorable foreign currency translation.
“We finished another successful year in 2013,” said John W. Conway, chairman and CEO. “Sales were up over prior year, and we were very fortunate that global beverage can unit sales increased 5%. Demand in our food can business was essentially flat year-on-year and our global aerosol business increased unit sales by 2%. All of this contributed to year-on-year improvement in gross profit, segment income and net income after certain items. We put special effort into generating substantial free cash and the results speak for themselves with free cash flow at an all-time record for our company.
“Looking ahead to 2014, general business conditions in North America and Europe are expected to improve, positively affecting the company’s performance. We also anticipate further global beverage can growth and solid contributions from the 2013 capacity expansions in Cambodia, China, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, as well as the start-up of a new plant in Teresina, Brazil. This, combined with a continuing focus on cost reduction and productivity improvement throughout the Company, will deliver increased value to our shareholders.”
The company generated free cash flow of $641 million and $345 million, in 2013 and 2012 respectively. Free cash flow in 2013 benefited from working capital improvements and lower capital expenditures. The Company repurchased $300 million of its common shares during the year.
During the fourth quarter of 2013, the company announced that it had entered into an agreement to acquire Mivisa Envases, SAU, a leading Spanish manufacturer of two- and three-piece food cans and ends in a transaction valued at €1.2 billion. The acquisition, which is subject to review by the European Commission and other competition authorities, is expected to close during 2014 and to be earnings accretive.
Net sales in the fourth quarter grew to $2,071 million over the $2,037 million in the fourth quarter of 2012, primarily due to increased global beverage can volumes and $15 million from the impact of foreign currency translation, partially offset by decreased food can volumes.
Fourth quarter gross profit was $274 million compared to $281 million in the 2012 fourth quarter, as increased beverage can volumes and lower depreciation expense were offset by lower volumes and substantially reduced production activity across food can operations in North America and Europe.