Net sales in the first quarter were $2,755 million compared to $2,197 million in the first quarter of 2018 reflecting the impact of the Signode acquisition in April 2018 and increased beverage and food can volumes, offset by $100 million of unfavorable currency translation impact.
Income from operations was $262 million in the quarter compared to $221 million in the first quarter of 2018. Segment income increased to $315 million in the first quarter compared to $245 million in the prior year first quarter and included the impact of the Signode acquisition offset by $10 million of unfavorable currency translation impact.
“We started off the year as expected, as the fundamentals underlying our global businesses remain strong,” said Timothy J. Donahue, president and CEO. “The company is on track for a solid 2019, and we reaffirm our free cash flow guidance of $775 million for the year. Global beverage can volume during the quarter increased 3%, driven by robust shipments in Brazil, Europe and Southeast Asia. As expected, we were adversely impacted by currency translation and start-up costs related to the two new beverage can facilities in Europe.
“Beverage cans are the world’s most sustainable and recycled beverage packaging and are increasingly being viewed as its most responsible format. As such, cans are gaining preference among both brand owners and consumers, as reflected by increasing offerings of new beverage products – both non-alcoholic and alcoholic – being introduced in cans versus alternative packaging formats. To meet the rising demand for beverage cans, during the first quarter, we began production on a third line at the company’s existing plant in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and started up a second high-speed aluminum line at our new beverage can facility in Valencia, Spain. During the fourth quarter of 2019, we expect to begin operations at a new one-line beverage can plant in Rio Verde, central Brazil.”