Ball’s comparable first quarter 2017 results were net earnings of $136 million, or 76 cents per diluted share, compared to $86 million, or 59 cents per diluted share in 2016. Year-over-year earnings per share figures include the impact of shares issued for the recent acquisition and exclude the impact of the company’s recently announced two-for-one stock split, which will be effective on May 16, 2017.
During the second half of 2016, Ball realigned its operating segments as a result of the Rexam transaction.
“Our first quarter results from operations exceeded our expectations and higher corporate costs were offset by a lower effective tax rate. The company’s global beverage can volume increased in the quarter on a pro forma basis led by improved volumes in the Americas and Europe, global metal aerosol growth offset continued declines in US food cans and aerospace won additional work,” said John A. Hayes, chairman, president and CEO. “Higher corporate costs were driven by higher compensation costs and certain one-time items that are expected to recede in the second half of the year. We, once again, reaffirm our financial goals for 2017 through 2019 and we are on track to recognize at least $150 million of the targeted $300 million plus synergies largely in the second half of 2017.”
“Our quarter-end net debt of $7.5 billion is right on top of our forecast and reflects the normal seasonal working capital build in our packaging businesses. We continue to expect that our 2017 free cash flow will be in the range of $750 million to $850 million after capital spending of approximately $500 million,” said Scott C. Morrison, senior vice president and chief financial officer.
“We are pleased with our progress. The company remains on pace to deliver on its free cash flow, EVA dollar growth, diluted earnings per share growth and cost savings targets for 2017 and beyond. As we move closer to our 3.5 times net debt to comparable EBITDA target in 2017, we look forward to returning additional value to our shareholders in the form of share repurchases and higher dividends,” Hayes said.