Metal packaging products supplier Ball Corp. (BLL: Quote) Thursday reported a decline in fourth-quarter profit, reflecting higher expenses, despite an increase in sales. Comparable earnings missed analysts' expectations. However, the company said it expects continued earnings improvement in 2013 amid existing challenges.
In the fourth quarter, net earnings attributable to the company declined to $60.6 million or $0.39 per share from $77.5 million or $0.47 per share in the previous year.
On a comparable basis, excluding items, net earnings were $0.64, while the company posted $0.48 per share in the prior year. On average, 12 analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to earn $0.66 per share for the quarter. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.
Net sales for the quarter increased to $2.11 billion from $2.05 billion in the same quarter last year, and was in line with analysts' estimates.
Metal beverage packaging, Americas & Asia, net sales grew to $1.11 billion from $1.09 billion a year earlier. Metal beverage packaging, Europe sales were $437.4 million, down from $451 million last year.
Total costs and expenses advanced to $1.96 billion from $1.89 billion in the preceding year.
John Hayes, president and chief executive officer of the company said, "We remain focused on striving to reach our long-term goal of 10 to 15 percent diluted earnings per share growth."
BLL closed Wednesday's regular trading at $45.93 on the NYSE.
by RTT Staff Writer
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