Sonoco (NYSE: SON) Reports Second Quarter and First Half Earnings


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Sonoco (NYSE: SON) Reports Second Quarter and First Half Earnings

HARTSVILLE, S.C., July 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Sonoco reported comparable earnings per diluted share of $.46 for the second quarter of 1999, compared with $.45 per diluted share for the second quarter of 1998, it was announced today by Peter C. Browning, president and chief executive officer of this global packaging manufacturer. Comparable results for 1998 exclude divested business units, a net gain from the sale of the Company's Industrial Container and North American labels businesses sold during the second quarter of 1998, and the extraordinary loss on the early extinguishment of its 9.2% bonds. Reported second quarter earnings per diluted share were $.46, versus $.59 for the same period last year that included a $26.6 million after-tax gain on the sale of divested assets and an $11.8 million extraordinary loss.

On a comparable basis, second quarter sales for 1999 were $610.0 million, compared with $602.9 million in the same quarter of 1998. Reported sales for the second quarter of 1999 were $611.8 million, versus $637.6 million for the second quarter of 1998. On a comparable basis, income available to common shareholders for the second quarter of 1999 was $47.4 million, compared with $47.4 million in the same period of last year. Reported income available to common shareholders in the second quarter of 1999 was $47.4 million, versus $62.2 million in the same period of 1998, including the non-operating items noted above.

For the first six months of 1999, sales, on a comparable basis, were $1.16 billion, even with $1.16 billion in the first half of 1998. Reported sales for the first six months of 1999 were $1.17 billion, versus $1.31 billion in the first half of 1998. On a comparable basis, income available to common shareholders for the first six months of 1999 was $87.1 million, compared with $93.9 million in 1998's first half. Reported income available to common shareholders for the first half of 1999 was $91.3 million, versus $108.7 million in the first half of last year. On a comparable basis, earnings per diluted share for the first six months of 1999 were $.85, compared with $.88 for the same period in 1998. Reported earnings per diluted share in the first half of 1999 were $.89, versus $1.02 in the first half of 1998.

"Volumes improved in virtually all of our businesses globally, including our paper operations that are currently operating near capacity. The profit impact from volume gains was more than offset, however, by an unfavorable price/cost ratio reflecting increasing raw material costs during the quarter, including recovered paper (OCC) costs. In response, we announced last week a 7-1/2% - 9% increase in U.S. prices for its paper-based engineered carriers, as well as price increases for Asia, Europe, Latin America, Canada and Mexico," said Mr. Browning. The Company has not announced a general price increase for its engineered carriers since August 1997.

"Historically, full implementation of our price increases for engineered carriers lags increased paper prices. Therefore, we would not expect a positive impact from our price increase in the third quarter. This is a market characteristic that we have successfully managed through our 100-year history and expect to do so again," stated Mr. Browning.

"We have seen a steady, month-over-month increase in demand for our engineered carriers since February of this year. This trend, coupled with improved productivity in our global paper mill system, which is expected to be running at capacity during the remainder of the year; continued strength in our composite can business; continuing growth in flexible packaging; and improvement in most of our other businesses, should result in another record year for 1999," added Mr. Browning.

Financial information by segment reflects results from on-going operations with results from divested units and gains and losses on the disposition of these units, reflected separately. Results by segment are discussed below on an on-going basis only.

Segment Review

Consumer Packaging

The consumer packaging segment includes composite cans; high density film products; co-extruded, laminated flexible packaging; capseals; packaging services; folding cartons and plastic and fibre cartridges.

Second quarter sales for the consumer segment, on a comparable basis, were $271.6 million, compared with $259.9 million in the same period last year. Operating profit for this segment was $36.5 million, including a $1.4 million gain on the sale of real estate, compared with $32.6 million in the second quarter of 1998.

First half sales for the consumer segment, on a comparable basis, were $517.3 million, compared with $510.7 million in the same period of 1998. Operating profit in this segment for the first six months was $68.2 million, compared with $63.2 million in the same period last year.

The increase in second quarter sales in this segment resulted primarily from increased volume in flexible packaging operations and the European composite can operations. The Company's co-extruded, laminated flexible packaging operations saw increases in internal sales to the Company's consumer products businesses, as well as from new confectionery product introductions by a major customer. New introductions in the snack food market in Europe helped boost composite can volume. The increase in operating profit reflects improved productivity in the domestic composite can, high density film and flexible packaging operations, plus the gain from the sale of real estate.

In the domestic composite can operations, sales for nuts and powdered beverages lines were strong, while sales volume declined in the snack, dough and concentrate lines during the quarter. The rate of sales decline in frozen concentrates lessened, reflecting the conversion of a previous self- manufacturer. The Company opened a new composite can plant in Mexico during the second quarter, primarily to serve the powdered infant formula market.

Industrial Packaging

The industrial packaging segment includes engineered carriers (tubes and cores); molded plugs and related products and services; molded and extruded plastics; paper manufacturing; recovered paper operations; protective packaging; reels for wire and cable packaging; adhesives; converting machinery; and forest products.

Comparable second quarter sales in the industrial packaging segment were $338.4 million, compared with $343.0 million in the second quarter of last year. Operating profits in this segment were $48.0 million, including a $2.4 million charge related to the shutdown of a paper mill in England and associated redundancies, compared with $54.0 million in the same period of 1998. Excluding the charge, second quarter 1999 operating profits in the segment would have been down 6.7 percent rather than 11.2 percent.

Comparable sales for the first half of 1999 in this segment were $646.3 million, compared with $645.6 million in the same period of 1998. Comparable operating profit for the industrial segment for the first half of 1999 was $91.4 million, compared with $103.3 million in the first six months of 1998.

While volume was up in the Company's engineered carrier business and paper mills were operating at higher rates for the quarter, raw materials prices increased during the quarter, putting pressure on operating margins.

Corporate

During the second quarter, Sonoco announced an agreement to purchase all of the composite can assets of Crown, Cork and Seal Company, Inc. Crown Cork & Seal's composite can business had 1998 sales of approximately $32 million. The all-cash purchase, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close in the third quarter of 1999.

Sonoco, founded in 1899, is a $2.6 billion manufacturer of industrial and consumer packaging products with approximately 275 operations in 32 countries serving customers in some 85 nations.

Cautionary Statements

Statements included herein that are not historical in nature are intended to be, and are hereby identified as, "forward-looking statements" for purposes of the safe harbor provided by Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. Such forward-looking statements are based on current expectations, estimates and projections about the company's industry, management's beliefs and certain assumptions made by management. Such information includes, without limitation, discussions as to estimates, expectations, beliefs, plans, strategies and objectives concerning the company's future financial and operating performance.

These statements are not guarantees of future performance and are subject to certain risks, uncertainties and assumptions that are difficult to predict. Therefore, actual results may differ materially from those expressed or forecasted in such forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include, without limitation: availability and pricing of raw materials; success of new product development and introduction; ability to maintain or increase productivity levels; international, national and local economic and market conditions; ability to maintain market share; pricing pressures and demand for products; continued strength of the company's paperboard-based tube, core and composite can operations; and currency stability and the rate of growth in foreign markets. Additional information concerning some of the factors that could cause materially different results is included in the company's reports on Forms 10-K, 10-Q and 8-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Such reports are available from the Securities and Exchange Commission's public reference facilities and its internet website or from the company's investor relations department.

         CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED STATEMENTS OF OPERATIONS (Unaudited)
              (Dollars and shares in thousands except per share)

                        THREE MONTHS ENDED               SIX MONTHS ENDED
                    June 27,       June 28,        June 27,         June 28,
                     1999           1998            1999             1998
    Sales        $  611,754      $ 637,609     $  1,172,233     $  1,310,924
    Cost of sales   466,632        489,708          892,534        1,007,766
    Selling, general
     and administrative
     expenses        60,745         61,854          120,015          129,191
    Gain on assets
     held for sale       --        (85,360)          (3,500)         (85,360)
    Income before
     interest and
     taxes           84,377        171,407          163,184          259,327
    Interest expense 11,846         12,878           24,316           27,234
    Interest income  (1,692)        (1,963)          (2,730)          (2,771)
    Income before
     income taxes    74,223        160,492          141,598          234,864
    Provision for
     income taxes    28,575         88,095           53,166          117,100
    Income before equity
     in earnings of affiliates/
     Minority interest in
      subsidiaries   45,648         72,397           88,432          117,764
    Equity in earnings
     of affiliates/
     Minority interest
     in subsidiaries  1,716          1,544            2,879            2,672
    Net income before
     extraordinary
     loss            47,364         73,941           91,311          120,436
    Extraordinary
     loss                --         11,753               --           11,753
    Net income
     available to
     common
     shareholders $  47,364    $    62,188        $  91,311      $   108,683

    Average shares
     outstanding -
     diluted        102,842        106,287          102,829          106,614

    Diluted earnings
     per share    $     .46    $       .59        $     .89      $      1.02
    Dividends per
     common share $     .19    $       .18        $     .37      $       .34



              CONDENSED CONSOLIDATED BALANCE SHEETS (Unaudited)
                            (Dollars in thousands)
                                              June 27,        Dec. 31,
                                               1999            1998
    Assets
    Current Assets:
     Cash and cash equivalents            $    44,845      $    57,249
     Receivables                              368,404          352,147
     Inventories                              229,968          217,261
     Prepaid expenses and deferred taxes       30,738           29,465
     Net assets held for sale                      --            5,294
                                              673,955          661,416
    Property, plant and equipment, net        995,550        1,013,843
    Cost in excess of fair value of
     assets purchased, net                    172,141          170,361
    Other assets                              259,554          237,363
                                          $ 2,101,200      $ 2,082,983

    Liabilities and Shareholders' Equity
    Current Liabilities:
     Payable to suppliers and others      $   304,808      $   323,685
     Notes payable and current portion
      of long-term debt                        76,123           96,806
     Taxes on income                            2,772           15,578
                                              383,703          436,069
    Long-term debt                            699,184          686,826
    Postretirement benefits other than
     pensions                                  41,074           43,689
    Deferred income taxes and other           121,889           94,807
    Shareholders' equity                      855,350          821,592
                                          $ 2,101,200      $ 2,082,983


             SUPPLEMENTARY COMPARATIVE FINANCIAL DATA (Unaudited)
                            (Dollars in thousands)

                                  THREE MONTHS ENDED        SIX MONTHS ENDED
                               June 27,      June 28,     June 27,   June 28,
                                 1999         1998         1999        1998
    Net Sales
     Industrial Packaging     $ 338,381    $ 343,002    $ 646,271   $ 645,577
     Consumer Packaging         271,613      259,858      517,289     510,717
     Net sales from on-going
      businesses                609,994      602,860    1,163,560   1,156,294

     Divested businesses          1,760       34,749        8,673     154,630

     Consolidated             $ 611,754    $ 637,609   $1,172,233  $1,310,294

    Operating Profit
     Industrial Packaging     $  47,969    $  53,993   $   91,404  $  103,341
     Consumer Packaging          36,460       32,550       68,204      63,194
     *Operating profit from
       on-going businesses       84,429       86,543      159,608     166,535

    Divested businesses             (52)        (496)          76       7,432
    Gain on assets held for sale              85,360        3,500      85,360
    Interest, net               (10,154)     (10,915)     (21,586)    (24,463)

      Consolidated            $  74,223    $ 160,492   $  141,598  $  234,864

    * Excludes divested business units from net sales and operating profit in
      1999 and 1998 and excludes the 1999 and 1998 gains on assets held for
      sale.

SOURCE Sonoco
Web site: http: //www.sonoco.com
Company News On-Call: http: //www.prnewswire.com/comp/805487.html or fax, 800-758-5804, ext. 805487
CONTACT: Allan V. Cecil, Vice President of Sonoco, 843-383-7524