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Crown Holdings 1Q Profit Rises 2.5%, Beats Views

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES Crown Holdings Inc.'s (CCK) first-quarter profit rose a slim 2.5%, but the can maker's results beat Wall Street's expectations. Demand for Crown's products has held up well in the U.S. as more cash-strapped consumers turn to packaged foods they eat at home. And metal containers remain a growing business in many parts of the world. Crown, which has been paying down debt, has expanded in emerging markets as it continues to diversify its geographic footprint and product mix. For the latest quarter, Crown reported a profit of $41 million, or 25 cents a share, up from $40 million, or 25 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding a dispute settlement and restructuring effects, among other items, earnings rose to 30 cents a share from 28 cents. Revenue rose 5.5% to $1.78 billion. Changes in currency values contributed $79 million, and global volumes rose. Analysts had estimated earnings of 27 cents on revenue of $1.8 billion, according to a poll by Thomson Reuters. Gross margin fell to 14.1% from 14.5%. Net sales rose in three of the company's five segments, with North American food-can sales coming in flat and European beverage revenue sliding 7.4%. But the Americas beverage unit--its biggest segment by revenue this quarter-- posted a 17% revenue jump and 39% surge in profit. Sales in the European food business grew 3.9% but income slid 23%. Crown's shares were at $27.17, up 0.1%, in after-hours trading. The stock has gained 13% in the past year. -By Kathy Shwiff, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2357;

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