NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of Graphic Packaging (GPK) - Get Report are higher by 5.86% to $15.07 on heavy volume in early afternoon trading on Thursday, following the release of the packaging solutions provider's 2015 first quarter earnings results which topped analysts' expectations, and improved year over year.

The company, whose business includes creating the packaging for branded food products and beverage multipacks, said its 2015 first quarter adjusted earnings were 17 cents per diluted share, one cent above the 16 cents analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were expecting.

Last year, Graphic Packaging said it earned an adjusted 13 cents per diluted share in the 2014 first quarter.

"We continue to perform well in a difficult operating environment, as demand in some of our key end-use markets remain challenged," company CEO David Scheible said in a statement.

Net sales decline by 6% for the most recent quarter to $1.01 billion, in line with what analysts had forecast for the period.

Separately, TheStreet Ratings team rates GRAPHIC PACKAGING HOLDING CO as a Buy with a ratings score of B. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate GRAPHIC PACKAGING HOLDING CO (GPK) a BUY. This is driven by a few notable strengths, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, good cash flow from operations and reasonable valuation levels. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally high debt management risk by most measures that we evaluated."

You can view the full analysis from the report here: GPK Ratings Report

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