First quarter highlights included GAAP earnings per diluted share of $0.73, compared with $0.53 in 2017. First-quarter 2018 net sales were $1.30 billion, up 11.2%, from $1.17 billion in 2017. Cash flow from operations was $119.8 million in the first quarter of 2018, compared with $67.4 million in 2017. Free cash flow for the first quarter was $44.9 million, compared with $(18.4) million in 2017.
Second Quarter and Full-Year Guidance Update
Base earnings for the second quarter of 2018 are estimated to be in the range of $0.83 to $0.89 per diluted share, compared to $0.71 per diluted share in the second quarter of 2017. Full-year 2018 base earnings guidance has been raised to $3.22 to $3.32 per diluted share, from the previous guidance of $3.16 to $3.26 per diluted share.
Full-year 2018 operating cash flow and free cash flow guidance remain in the range of $560 million to $580 million and $180 million and $200 million, respectively.
“Sonoco’s growing diversified mix of Consumer- and Industrial-related packaging businesses achieved record consolidated top-line and bottom-line results in the first quarter, with each improving by double-digits over prior-year consolidated results,” Rob Tiede, Sonoco president and CEO, said. “Net sales grew by 11.2%, while operating profit improved 17.6% and net income attributable to Sonoco gained 37.8% compared to last year. Base operating profit and base net income attributable to Sonoco improved 12.8% and 24.6%, respectively.”
Gross profits were a record $250.6 million in the first quarter, an increase of $27.6 million or 12.4%, compared with $223.0 million in the same period in 2017. Gross profit as a percentage of sales increased to 19.2%, compared with 19.0% in the same period in 2017.