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Container Stocks' Q1 Earnings to Watch Tomorrow: BLL, SEE

With major soft drink majors like PepsiCo, Inc. PEP and The Coca-Cola Company KO coming up with solid first-quarter results, aided by higher sales of non-carbonated drinks and improved performance in the North America segments, the packaging-containers industry seems to be looking up as well.

The Containers-Paper, Plastics and Containers-Paper, Glass industry falls under the Industrial Products sector, one of the 16 Zacks sectors. For this quarter, the Industrial Products sector is expected to log a 24.9% plunge in earnings, which does not come as a surprise considering the bigger picture. So far, 71 S&P 500 companies, which have already reported quarterly results, put up a 9% drop in earnings on the scoreboard. Taking into account all the members yet to report, overall earnings are expected to tumble 9.7% for the quarter. For a detailed account of the earnings outlook for all the Zacks sectors, please read our Earnings Trends report.

Despite the projection of negative earnings growth for the sector, the Containers-Paper, Plastics and Containers-Paper, Glass industry is favorably placed with respective Zacks Rank #26 and #66, indicating a positive outlook. Let’s take a closer look at what sets this industry apart.

Container-packaging stocks should benefit from the recent uptrend witnessed in the European markets and steady growth in the U.S., which is, in turn, backed by higher packaging-intensive real retail sales. As per the Can Manufacturers Institute’s (CMI) latest data, North American beverage can shipments witnessed a strong first quarter with 2.1% growth, driven by a 5.5% improvement in alcoholic beverage shipments. Though sales of non-alcoholic (primarily soda) cans remained flat, it was better than the 1.6% decline in the prior-year quarter.

Given that the U.S. and Canada beverage can market has recently been on the downtrend, these numbers reflect a notable acceleration. In fact, we believe that this strength in North America could help offset weakness in other regions, particularly Brazil. Packaged food volumes have also remained stable. Overall preference for packaged goods from various sectors is expected to fuel growth in the global Packaging and Containers industry this quarter and ahead.

Further, a significant decline in aluminum premium should result in sizable benefits for beverage can manufacturers. Lower resin prices will also provide tailwinds in the quarter.

With this in the backdrop, investors would be interested to see how these major packaging stocks fare in their upcoming releases tomorrow. Apart from beats and misses, focus will also be on management outlooks on shipments and updates on market conditions.

Leading suppliers of metal and plastic packaging to the beverage and food industries, Ball Corporation BLL is expected to report first-quarter results on Apr 28 before the market opens. Even though the company will benefit from lower currency impact and a decline in start-up costs, it expects first-quarter results to be relatively soft due to the repricing of its contracts in China and challenging comparisons in the food and household products business. The combination of Ball Corporation’s Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) and Earnings ESP of +0.00% makes a beat uncertain this quarter. (Read More: Will Ball Corporation Manage to Beat on Q1 Earnings?)

Ball Corporation’s Surprise History: In the last quarter, the company posted a positive earnings surprise of 6.67%. Over the past four quarters, Ball Corporation has outpaced the Zacks Consensus Estimate in two quarters. The company, however, managed to deliver an average positive earnings surprise of 1.12% over the trailing four quarters.

Sealed Air Corporation SEE is also expected to report first-quarter 2016 results on Apr 28, before the market opens. Even though Sealed Air’s volumes are expected to improve while margins expand on the back of increased productivity, the company will continue to face currency challenges due to its significant international presence. Though Sealed Air’s Zacks Rank #1 increases the predictive power of ESP, its 0.00% ESP makes surprise prediction difficult. (Read More: Sealed Air Q1 Earnings: Can the Stock Pull a Surprise?)

Sealed Air’s Surprise History: In the last reported quarter, Sealed Air posted an impressive 52% positive earnings surprise. The above chart depicts the company’s impressive earnings surprise history, wherein it beat earnings estimates in all of the past four quarters with an average positive earnings surprise of 28.62%.

Stay tuned for our full earnings articles to see how these stocks actually fare this season.

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COCA COLA CO (KO): Free Stock Analysis Report
PEPSICO INC (PEP): Free Stock Analysis Report
BALL CORP (BLL): Free Stock Analysis Report
SEALED AIR CORP (SEE): Free Stock Analysis Report
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