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Acquisitions drive Amcor results

By: Kate Tilley

September 4, 2012

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (Sept. 4, 12:40 p.m. ET) — Global packaging supplier Melbourne-based Amcor Ltd. expects another year of higher earnings thanks to key acquisitions and growth in its flexible packaging division in China.

Amcor manufactures PET containers for beverages; flexible packaging for the food and healthcare markets; tobacco packaging; and corrugated boxes.

In a report to investors on its 2012 financial year results, Amcor said its flexibles business is set to grow in China, after it took full ownership of factories in Beijing and Chengdu. Amcor previously held 75 percent and 40 percent interests in those plants respectively.

“These acquisitions provide the business with additional leverage to growth opportunities being pursued in the north and west of China,” the report said.

Amcor’s Chinese flexibles business has seven plants. Sales in China for the year to ended June 30 increased 13 percent.

Across all locations, Amcor Flexibles division’s profit before interest and tax (PBIT) increased 10.1 percent to A$683.3 million (US$713.6 million) and sales rose 3.7 percent to A$6.1 billion (US$6.4 billion).

Across all divisions, Amcor posted record results. Profit after tax and before significant items increased 11.3 percent to A$634.9 million (US$663 million) and returns increased from 14.1 percent to 15.9 percent. The company completed a A$150 million (US$157 million) share buy-back.

Amcor Managing Director and CEO Ken MacKenzie said: “To achieve an 11.3 percent increase in underlying earnings was an outstanding effort, given subdued economic conditions and a A$35 million (US$37 million) adverse impact on reported earnings due to the appreciation of the Australian dollar.”

Amcor Rigid Plastics division’s PBIT increased 8.8 percent to A$264.1 million (US$275.8 million). Successful integration of the Ball Plastic Packaging Americas acquisition drove the growth.

MacKenzie said two “transformational acquisitions” during the global financial crisis - Alcan Packaging and Ball – were key earnings growth components for the financial year. He said both acquisitions’ integration programs are ahead of schedule in timing and synergy benefits.

In 2010, Amcor bought parts of Rio Tinto Group’s Paris-based Alcan Packaging business for about US$2 billion and acquired Ball Americas’ assets for US$280 million. Ball was a unit of Broomfield, Colo.-based Ball Corp.

However, the Australian economy’s uncertain outlook and the high Australian dollar have impacted on Amcor’s Australasia & Packaging Distribution business’s earnings.

Amcor said the division’s PBIT decreased 4.5 percent to A$152.5 million (US$159.3 million). Sales increased only marginally by 1.3 percent to A$2.9 billion (US$3 billion). But MacKenzie said it was a “solid performance.”