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Packaging Stocks Look Hot: Opinion

The following commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet's guest contributor program, which is separate from the company's news coverage.

By Hilary Kramer,

NEW YORK ( InvestorPlace) -- Graham Packaging (GRM), which develops plastic containers for consumer products, launched an IPO early last year.

But investors were not impressed with GRM stock. Graham Packaging priced the deal at $10 a share, which was well below the $14-$16 price range. And then newly minted GRM stock treaded water.

Well, things certainly perked up this year for Graham Packaging. In April, Graham received a buyout offer from Silgan (SLGN). Then in the past few weeks, New Zealand's Rank Group joined the fray, making its own bid for GRM stock. The shares of Graham stock are now trading at $25.89. Yes, you don't have to play highfliers like LinkedIn (LNKD) to make money on IPOs.
  • Related Article: Is 2011 IPO Scene a Bust?
  • However, is this Graham Packaging transaction an isolated event or the start of a new trend in the packaging industry? I think it's the latter. Keep in mind that the packaging industry tends to outperform when the economy is shaky. No doubt, the recent reports show that the U.S. has hit a "soft patch." Essentially, packaging has the advantage of being focused on the food and beverage industries, which tend to have stable demand profiles.

    Another driving force will be acquisitions. Such deals often allow for substantial cost savings, which can help boost margins.

    So what are some packaging stocks to consider? Here's a look at four:

    MeadWestvaco (MWV): This is a global packaging powerhouse, although much of its manufacturing footprint is in the U.S.

    MeadWestvaco has a large consumer business, with megacustomers like Procter & Gamble (PG). The segment provides a nice source of recurring revenues. But the company also has business in other areas like chemicals, office products and health care.

    Interestingly enough, MeadWestvaco also has massive land holdings, which are a nice source of cash. At the same time, the company has an overfunded pension. This is definitely rare in the manufacturing world.
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