MeadWestvaco Corporation (NYSE: MWV), a global leader in packaging and packaging solutions announced that total sales in the fourth quarter of 2012 increased 4 percent to $1.33 billion compared to fourth quarter of 2011. Excluding the effect of unfavorable foreign currency exchange, sales grew 6 percent due to increased volume of higher value products across most of the company’s targeted packaging and specialty chemicals markets, as well as from higher land sales. During the quarter, the company had gains from its commercial excellence and innovation initiatives that resulted in volume and market share growth in medical dispensers, fragrance sprayers, beverage multi-packs, aseptic liquid packaging, targeted food packaging and new chemical formulations for adhesives and oilfield drilling markets. The company also benefited from the acquisitions of Polytop (caps and closures), Ruby Macons Ltd. (corrugated packaging materials) and Resitec (specialty chemicals).
Pretax income from the company’s business segments increased 29 percent to $132 million in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared to $102 million in the fourth quarter of 2011. The performance was driven by increased profits in the Food & Beverage and Community Development and Land Management segments, and by strong earnings in the Specialty Chemicals segment, while profits declined in the Home, Health and Beauty segment. Income from continuing operations was $17 million or $0.10 per share in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared to a loss of $7 million or $0.04 per share in the fourth quarter of 2011. Excluding special items, income from continuing operations in the fourth quarter of 2012 was $13 million or $0.07 per share versus $5 million or $0.03 per share in the fourth quarter of 2011.
“We have been consistently improving our financial performance by executing on a set of profitable growth strategies,” said John A. Luke, Jr., chairman and chief executive officer, MWV. “In the fourth quarter, these strategies – especially a focus on commercial excellence, innovation and emerging markets – again led to higher sales. However, our earnings in the quarter were impacted by a sudden drop in economic activity at the end of the year associated with the fiscal cliff in the U.S., and ongoing macroeconomic challenges in other significant geographies, as well as by some unusual one-time items. Nevertheless, our overall performance demonstrates our ability to grow our business and bolster our results during challenging times by focusing on the right strategies to outperform in the packaging and specialty chemicals markets that we’ve targeted for profitable participation.”
Mr. Luke continued, “We increased our share in these markets by winning new business for innovative products such as Melodie® fragrance sprayers, expanding our presence in emerging markets like India, and leveraging new technologies and commercial strategies across our global packaging platform. That’s what we will continue to do going forward. We like the direction we’re headed and have already seen stronger demand early this year compared to the decline at the end of the fourth quarter. We believe that continued execution of our profitable growth strategies, including the Brazil expansion and our productivity programs, will drive earnings and cash flow growth in 2013.”