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Ball Corp (BLL) Q1 Earnings & Sales Top Estimates, Up Y/Y

Ball Corporation BLL reported first-quarter 2021 adjusted earnings of 72 cents per share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 67 cents. The bottom line also improved 18% on a year-over-year basis. The quarterly results reflect solid global beverage-can volume growth.

On a reported basis, the company posted earnings of 60 cents per share compared with the prior-year quarter’s 7 cents.

Total sales were $3,125 million in the reported quarter, up 12% from the year-ago quarter. The top line also surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3,088 million. Global beverage-can volumes were up 8% in the quarter.

Ball Corporation Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise

Ball Corporation price-consensus-eps-surprise-chart | Ball Corporation Quote

Operational Update

Cost of sales amounted to $2,493 million in first-quarter 2021, up 12.6% from the year-ago quarter. Gross profit totaled $632 million compared with the year-ago quarter’s $570 million. Gross margin came in at 20.2% during the reported quarter, reflecting a 30 basis point contraction year over year.

Selling, general and administrative expenses surged 20% year over year to $157 million. Adjusted operating profit improved 12% year over year to $345 million. Adjusted operating margin came in at 11.0%, flat compared with the prior-year quarter.

Segment Performance

The Beverage packaging North and Central America segment revenues increased to $1,296 million during first-quarter 2021 from the year-ago quarter’s $1,181 million. Operating earnings came amounted to $140 million during the reported quarter, down 4% year over year.

Sales at the Beverage packaging, EMEA segment were $796 million in the first quarter, up 19% year over year. Operating earnings increased 47% year over year to $100 million.

The Beverage packaging South America segment’s revenues increased to $487 million in the reported quarter from the prior-year period’s $405 million. Operating earnings climbed 48% to $93 million from the year-earlier quarter’s $63 million.

In the Aerospace segment, sales were down 1.9% year over year to $424 million. Operating earnings decreased to $35 million from the year-ago quarter figure of $40 million. At the end of the quarter under review, the segment’s contracted backlog was $2.2 billion. Contracts already won but not yet booked into current contracted backlog was $5.3 billion.

Financial Condition

The company reported cash and cash equivalents of $461 million at the end of first-quarter 2021, down from $801 million at the end of the 2020. Cash flow used in operating activities was $477 million in the reported quarter compared with $708 million in the prior-year quarter. The company’s long-term debt declined to $6.9 billion at the end of the first quarter of 2021 from $7.5 billion at the end of 2020.


Global demand for aluminum packaging continues to grow as customers are now preferring cans over glass and plastic. The company continues to expect long-term diluted earnings per share growth goal of at least 10-15%.

Share Price Performance

Ball Corp's shares have gained 41% over the past year compared with the industry’s rally of 48.8%.

Zacks Rank and Stocks to Consider

Ball Corp currently has a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

Some better-ranked stocks in the Industrial Products sector are AGCO Corporation AGCO, Avery Dennison Corporation AVY and Caterpillar Inc. CAT. All of these stocks carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

AGCO Corporation has an estimated earnings growth rate of 51.2% for the ongoing year. The company’s shares have rallied 208% in the past year.

Avery Dennison has an expected earnings growth rate of 19% for 2021. Over the past year, the stock has climbed 107%.

Caterpillar has an estimated earnings growth rate of 44.2% for the ongoing year. The company’s shares have soared 122% in the past year.

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