Shares of Ball Corporation (BLL) hit a new 52-week high of $54.19 during the trading session on Feb 11, before closing lower at $53.94.
Over the past 52 weeks, Ball Corporation’s shares have ranged between a 52-week low of $41.52 on Jun 28, 2013 to the new 52-week high. The company has delivered a one-year return of about 20.3%. Ball Corporation has a market cap of $7.7 billion. Average volume of shares traded over the last three months was at approximately 881K. Ball Corporation has long-term estimated earnings per share growth rate of 11%.
What’s Driving Ball Corporation Upward?
Ball Corporation’s shares found support from the news on Feb 3 that Daniel W. Fisher has been named president of North American Metal Beverage Packaging Division, Americas, succeeding Michael Hranicka, who recently left the company.
The company’s shares gained support from the news on Jan 29 that its board has sanctioned a stock repurchase program, which allows the company to buy back up to 20 million shares. Shares further escalated as the company came up with strong fourth-quarter earnings on Jan 30. Ball Corporation reported fourth-quarter 2013 adjusted earnings of 86 cents per share, up 34% year over year. The company delivered an earnings surprise of +17.8%, delivering straight three quarters of positive surprises.
Ball Corporation expects free cash flow around $550 million for full-year 2014, due to capital expenditures of approximately $375 million. The company has maintained its long-term diluted earnings per share growth goal of 10%–15%.
The company will continue to benefit from product launches, expansion into emerging markets and strong backlog in its aerospace and technologies segment. Ball Corporation’s margins are expected to grow, driven by continued ramping-up of cost savings from previous and recent plant closures as well as cost cutting measures in Europe. Strong free cash flow, dividends and share repurchases are also expected to generate long-term shareholder value.
The Metal Beverage Packaging, Americas & Asia segment will benefit from the Alagoinhas plant's third production line, which is on track. This increased capacity will help the company to capitalize on the increased demand, spurred by the upcoming soccer World Cup in Brazil.
In Dec 2013, Ball acquired Envases del Plata S.A. de C.V., a leading producer of extruded aluminum aerosol packaging in Mexico. Demand for extruded aluminum packaging for personal care products continues to increase, thereby providing new opportunities for Ball’s growing business.
Other Stocks to Consider
Ball Corporation retains a short-term Zacks Rank #1. Some other stocks worth considering in the same sector include PH Glatfelter Co. (GLT), Resolute Forest Products Inc. (RFP) and UPM-Kymmene Oyj (UPMKY), all of which carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).