MWV Third Quarter Earnings Rise on Strong Sales

Oct. 26, 2011 - MeadWestvaco Corporation (MWV) today reported another quarter of earnings growth, with income from continuing operations of $117 million, or $0.67 per share ($0.70 ex-items) in the third quarter. The global packaging company grew sales by 9 percent, including strong performance in global markets for food, beverage and tobacco packaging, and higher sales of performance chemicals for inks, adhesives, and oilfield drilling markets.

“MWV’s record-setting quarterly operating results clearly demonstrate the stronger, more sustainable financial returns we are generating with our market-focused strategy,” said John A. Luke, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer. "We continue to make progress with commercial strategies designed to capture growth in targeted areas and expand our market share — even in those markets where demand is being impacted by global economic conditions. This progress — building on the success we have had all year — demonstrates the strong financial return on our strategy and gives us a confident long-term outlook.”

Quarterly Comparison

Sales from continuing operations in the third quarter of 2011 increased 9 percent to $1.64 billion from $1.50 billion in the third quarter of 2010. Income from continuing operations in the third quarter of 2011 increased 7 percent to $117 million, or $0.67 per share, compared to $109 million in the third quarter of 2010, or $0.63 per share. The results for the third quarter of 2011 include after-tax restructuring charges of $4 million, or $0.03 per share. The results for the third quarter of 2010 include a tax benefit from cellulosic biofuel producer credits of $15 million, or $0.09 per share; after-tax restructuring charges of $10 million, or $0.06 per share; and an after-tax charge from early retirement of debt of $4 million, or $0.02 per share.

Third Quarter Segment Results

Following is a summary of third quarter 2011 results by business segment. All comparisons for the third quarter of 2011 are with the third quarter of 2010 on a continuing operations basis.

Packaging Resources
(Includes high-quality packaging paperboard principally for global food and beverage, tobacco and commercial print markets as well as MWV Rigesa, a fully-integrated manufacturer of corrugated packaging solutions for produce, meat and consumer products markets in Brazil)

  • 7% sales growth
  • 12% profit growth

In the Packaging Resources segment, profit increased to $102 million in the third quarter of 2011 compared to $91 million in the third quarter of 2010. Sales increased to $750 million in the third quarter of 2011 compared to $703 million in the third quarter of 2010.

Sales growth was primarily due to improved paperboard pricing and better product mix across all end markets, as well as favorable foreign currency exchange. MWV Rigesa achieved increased sales from higher pricing and improved product mix in corrugated packaging in Brazil.

Total paperboard shipments declined 6 percent. The segment continued to outperform in targeted global food and beverage markets, as volumes in those markets outpaced industry trends and helped offset weaker volumes in general packaging. MWV Rigesa’s corrugated shipments decreased in-line with the Brazilian economy, but remained at solid levels.

Profit growth primarily reflects strong improvement in pricing and product mix across key product lines, improved manufacturing productivity and favorable foreign currency exchange. These benefits were partially offset by input cost inflation for certain raw materials and freight, as well as higher maintenance expenses and unabsorbed fixed manufacturing costs mainly due to the planned Mahrt mill outage in September.

Consumer Solutions
(Includes paperboard and plastic packaging solutions for beverage, tobacco, personal care, home and garden and healthcare markets)

  • 5% sales growth
  • 29% profit decline

In the Consumer Solutions segment, profit was $27 million in the third quarter of 2011 compared to $38 million in the third quarter of 2010. Sales increased to $478 million in the third quarter of 2011 compared to $455 million in the third quarter of 2010.

Sales growth was due to favorable foreign currency exchange, the addition of the trigger sprayer business acquired with Spray Plast, and pricing and product mix improvement in beverage, tobacco and personal care packaging. Volume gains in tobacco and healthcare packaging were more than offset by declines in standard personal care pump and dispensing solutions as major North American customers seek to reposition their product mix in a competitive environment. Lower beverage consumption rates in North America also led to declines in the company’s beverage packaging business. Partially offsetting these declines were solid volume growth in airless dispensers and beverage volume growth in emerging markets.

Profit decline primarily reflects input cost inflation, mainly increased costs for resins, stainless steel, energy and freight, as well as lower volume and unfavorable foreign currency exchange. These factors were partially offset by pricing and product mix improvement and productivity gains.

Consumer & Office Products
(Includes branded and licensed school supplies in North America and Brazil as well as office and planning and organizing products in North America)

  • 1% sales decline
  • 4% profit growth

In the Consumer & Office Products segment, profit increased to $53 million in the third quarter of 2011 compared to $51 million in the third quarter of 2010. Sales were $228 million in the third quarter of 2011 compared to $231 million in the third quarter of 2010.

The North American back-to-school season finished in line with expectations, but slightly lower than last year. Lower sales volume of time management products during the quarter mainly reflects the timing of shipments, which overall were in-line with the merchandising strategies of our key customers. Increased sales volume at Tilibra, the segment’s Brazilian operation, resulted in increased overall product mix improvement, which offset some of the North American volume decline in time management and office products.

Profit growth in 2011 reflects improved product mix primarily driven by continued strong performance of Tilibra, solid productivity gains and favorable foreign currency exchange. These benefits were partially offset by volume decline and input cost inflation for certain raw materials and freight. The segment continues to be impacted by imports from Asia.

Specialty Chemicals
(Includes chemicals for asphalt, oilfield, adhesives, inks and paper sizing, as well as activated carbon for auto emission controls and for food, water and air purification)

  • 19% sales growth
  • 27% profit growth

In the Specialty Chemicals segment, profit increased to $56 million in the third quarter of 2011 compared to $44 million in the third quarter of 2010. Sales increased to $225 million in the third quarter of 2011 compared to $189 million in the third quarter of 2010.

Sales growth was driven by continued success in higher value markets for pine chemicals, asphalt additives and carbon technologies. Overall volume was essentially unchanged, with pricing and product mix improvement across key pine chemicals markets driving sales growth. The segment continues to benefit from its focus on the highest value formulations used in the manufacturing of publication inks, adhesives, oilfield drilling and road building and maintenance solutions. In carbon solutions, sales were up modestly due to volume gains in water purification and price and product mix improvement. Automotive carbon volumes were slightly lower as auto production levels in Japan continue to recover from disruptions due to the tsunami.

Profit growth in 2011 primarily reflects product mix and pricing improvement. These benefits in 2011 were partially offset by input cost inflation for certain raw materials and freight.

Community Development & Land Management
(Includes approximately 705,000 owned acres in Southeastern U.S. — pursuing small-tract land sales and development opportunities principally in the region of Charleston, SC)

Sales for the Community Development and Land Management segment were $53 million in the third quarter of 2011 compared to $26 million in the third quarter of 2010. Profit was $19 million in the third quarter of 2011 compared to $2 million in third quarter of 2010. Profit from real estate activities was $18 million in 2011 compared to $1 million in 2010. The segment sold approximately 15,700 acres for gross proceeds of $31 million in 2011 compared to approximately 2,200 acres for gross proceeds of $6 million in 2010. Profit from forestry operations and leasing activities was $1 million in both 2011 and 2010.

Other Items

In the third quarter of 2011, total pre-tax input costs of energy, raw materials and freight increased $66 million over the third quarter of 2010 on a continuing operations basis.

In the third quarter of 2011, the pre-tax impact from foreign currency exchange was $1 million unfavorable compared to the third quarter of 2010 on a continuing operations basis.

Operating cash flow from continuing operations improved to about $390 million in the first three quarters of 2011 compared to $333 million in the first three quarters of 2010, driven primarily from higher year-over-year earnings.

Capital spending from continuing operations was $439 million in the first three quarters of 2011 compared to $136 million in the first three quarters of 2010. The year-over-year increase was primarily driven by the expansion of the company’s corrugated packaging business in Brazil.

The company's U.S. qualified retirement plans remain over funded and management does not anticipate any required regulatory funding contributions to such plans in the foreseeable future.

The effective tax rate attributable to continuing operations including the effects of discrete tax items was approximately 31 percent in the third quarter of 2011. The full year 2011 effective tax rate attributable to continuing operations excluding the effects of discrete tax items is expected to be about 33 percent based on the estimated mix and levels of domestic versus foreign earnings.

On February 1, 2011, the company completed the sale of its envelope products business. On September 30, 2010, the company completed the sale of its media and entertainment packaging business. For the current- and prior-year periods, the company is reporting these businesses as discontinued operations in the consolidated financial statements. There was no impact from discontinued operations on results in the third quarter of 2011. Results from discontinued operations were an after-tax loss of $124 million in the third quarter of 2010. Results from discontinued operations were an after-tax loss of $6 million and $135 million for the first three quarters of 2011 and 2010, respectively.

Outlook

In the fourth quarter of 2011, the company expects to build on its strong year-to-date performance and achieve record annual earnings this year. Earnings in the fourth quarter compared to the prior year will, however, be modestly lower principally due to costs from the planned maintenance and upgrade outage at the Covington paperboard mill and to lower rural land sales. The company also is anticipating weaker consumer demand driven by ongoing macroeconomic events, including the sovereign debt crisis in Europe and slower growth in developing markets. In addition, commodity volatility and inflation is leading to higher raw materials costs. In this difficult environment, the company remains focused on executing its market-focused strategies to generate profitable growth, improving operating productivity and investing in innovative solutions and emerging markets.

SOURCE: MeadWestvaco Corp.