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WestRock Hits 52-Week High on Robust Capital Allocation

Paper and packaging solutions provider, WestRock Company WRK, scaled a 52-week high of $58.62 during the trading session on Jul 10, before retracing to close the day at $58.29. The high is mainly backed by the company’s focus on execution of capital allocation strategy, improvement of core business and acquisitions.

WestRock has a market cap of roughly $14.6 billion and the average volume of shares traded over the last three months is around 1.42M. The company has a healthy year-to-date return of 14.8% and a solid one-year return of 46.7%.

In the last six months, WestRock has gained around 11.6%, outperforming the Zacks categorized Paper and Related Products  industry’s gain of 1.9%.

What’s Driving the Stock?

WestRock has long-term earnings growth rate of 9.08%, making us confident of its innate strength. The company has beaten the Zacks Consensus Estimate in each one of the trailing four quarters, the average positive earnings surprise being 9.79%.

Westrock Company Price and Consensus


Westrock Company Price and Consensus | Westrock Company Quote

WestRock continues to execute well on disciplined capital allocation strategy. The company bought back $25 million of stock during second-quarter fiscal 2017. During the quarter, it returned more than $125 million to stockholders through dividends and share repurchase program.

Notably, WestRock continues to grow through acquisitions. In fiscal 2016, the company reinforced its folding carton business with the acquisition of Cenveo Packaging. In Jun 2017, it acquired Multi Packaging Solutions – a leading global provider of print-based specialty packaging solutions. The company expects pro forma leverage, post the Multi Packaging Solutions transaction and including synergies, to be slightly above 2.5x. The acquisition will be immediately accretive to WestRock’s results, both on earnings per share and cash flow basis.

WestRock’s joint venture with Grupo Gondi is also progressing well. Further, the company completed the spin-off of its specialty chemicals business – Ingevity – in 2016, since it was not in line with the company’s core business. The spin-off will better position both businesses to pursue the respective operating priorities and strategies.

In addition, WestRock has divested its Home, Health & Beauty business to Silgan Holdings Inc. SLGN. These initiatives will help the company focus on its core paper and packaging solutions businesses.

Moreover, WestRock has strong opportunities to invest in business and M&A. Thus, the company expects to allocate more capital for growth and margin improvement opportunities in the near term.

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

WestRock currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Some better-ranked stocks in the same sector are E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company DD and Ternium S.A. TX.

Ternium has an average positive earnings surprise of 19.98% for the trailing four quarters. The stock flaunts a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company delivered an average positive earnings surprise of 28.73% over the last four quarters. The stock carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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