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Bemis 3Q Net Grew 71% On Acquisition; 4Q View Misses Street

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES Bemis Co.'s (BMS) third-quarter profit jumped 71% as the food-and-beverage packaging company saw strong sales, helped by its March acquisition of Alcan Packaging Food Americas from Rio Tinto PLC (RIO.LN) in a $1.2 billion deal. President and Chief Executive Henry Theisen said demand in the Americas continues to be robust, more than offsetting continued weakness in Europe. And while Bemis expects to face "modest raw material cost pressures" in the current quarter, Theisen said the company's guidance continues to reflect double-digit growth. It cut the high end of its 2010 earnings target and projected 48 cents to 53 cents a share for the fourth quarter. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected 55 cents. Package and container makers have been reporting improved results from a year earlier, including Crown Holdings Inc. (CCK) and Packaging Corp. of America. (PKG). Packaging makers that serve the food industry, such as Bemis, fared better than those geared to other sectors during the recession as consumers ate more meals at home. And while recovery in some economically sensitive markets has encouraged Bemis, the company has said cost management and acquisition integration efforts remain a priority in the current economic environment. On Thursday, Bemis reported a profit of $61.4 million, or 55 cents a share, up from $35.8 million, or 33 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding acquisition and other charges, earnings from continuing operations rose to 57 cents from 48 cents. The company in July projected 55 cents to 60 cents. Revenue surged 44% to $1.29 billion on the acquisition while organic sales--which typically exclude currency fluctuations and impacts from acquisitions and divestitures--rose about 8%. Analysts expected revenue of $1.3 billion. Gross margin narrowed to 18.7% from 20%. Net sales increased 51% at its flexible-packaging unit, its largest segment by sales, with the acquisition accounting for the vast majority of the growth. Shares closed Wednesday at $33.18 and were inactive premarket. -By John Kell, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2480; john.kell@dowjones.com

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