Sonoco 4Q net income jumps 45 pct.

Sonoco posts 45 pct. increase in 4Q net income as profitability improves in paper, industrial

Associated Press

HARTSVILLE, S.C. (AP) -- Packaging maker Sonoco Products Co. said Wednesday that fourth-quarter net income jumped 45 percent, helped by better profitability at its paper and industrial converted products business.

Sonoco earned $42.8 million, or 42 cents per share, up from $29.5 million, or 29 cents per share, in the same quarter a year ago.

The recent quarter's results included 14 cents per share in net charges related to restructuring activities and taxes, partially offset by excess insurance settlement gains. Excluding those items, adjusted profit was 56 cents per share.

Revenue rose 4 percent to $1.18 billion.

The results beat Wall Street predictions. Analysts, on average, expected profit of 54 cents per share on $1.17 billion in revenue, according to FactSet.

Sonoco said operating profit at its paper and industrial converted products business rose 23 percent to $36.3 million on higher volumes and productivity improvements. Tons produced in the company's North American paperboard mills rose 7 percent, helped by less downtime.

Profit fell 16 percent to $40.1 million at Sonoco's consumer packaging business because of overall weak demand for its products.

For the full year 2012, Sonoco earned $196 million, or $1.91 per share, down from $217.5 million, or $2.13 per share, in 2011. Revenue increased to $4.79 billion from $4.5 billion.

Sonoco expects adjusted first-quarter profit of 50 to 54 cents per share, while analysts expect 55 cents per share.

The company also boosted its 2013 adjusted profit prediction by 2 cents, to $2.26 to $2.34 per share to reflect lower pension expenses. Analysts estimate $2.30 per share.

Sonoco's board approved a quarterly dividend of 30 cents per share, payable March 8 to shareholders of record on Feb. 27.

Sonoco shares rose 3 cents to $31.81 in afternoon trading.

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