Plastic Wrap

Yesterday, Sealed Air (SEE - Get Report) reported results for the fourth quarter and full-year 2016. Shares of the bubble-wrap maker dropped 6% on the news, before rebounding some today.

Fourth-quarter adjusted EPS of $0.76 was $0.02 better than the consensus estimate. Revenue fell 0.6% to $1.74 billion. The revenue number was a slightly disappointment, and the company cut guidance for 2017.

For the year, Sealed Air posted sales of $6.78 billion, down 3.6%.

Sealed Air sees 2017 adjusted EPS of $2.70 versus previous guidance of $2.97. Management blamed the strong dollar for the lowered outlook. The company thinks currency will take about 3% out of this year's results. Adjusted for currency, net sales are expected to be up 2.5% in 2017.

On the conference call, management said it is now considering the sale of its cleaning division, Diversey Care. As early as December, management was talking about a tax-free spinoff of this unit to shareholders.

Just yesterday, the New York Post said the company was in talks with German soap maker Henkel to purchase the business. If a sale went through, Sealed Air could get more than $3 billion for the unit, according to the Post.

The Diversey cleaning business was purchased in 2011 by the previous management team and has been a distraction ever since. In my view, investors would applaud the sale of the cleaning business, because it would allow Sealed Air to focus on its food-care and product-care lines.

In food care, the company's "Darfresh On Tray" product addresses a $1.2 billion market, which Sealed Air believes it can hit $100 million in sales by 2020.

Darfresh On Tray is used by grocery stores to pack whole muscle cuts of meat. This allows better retail merchandising of meat because the trays have a clear plastic film on top with an easy peel corner, extending the shelf life of meat and reducing food waste. The technology used to adhere the thin film to the top of tray reduces film scrap by 30-40%.

In addition, because the Darfresh On Trays are standardized, they can be more easily packed into a truck. To transport 32,000 pounds of meat, a processor would need only one truck versus the two trucks needed with the current packaging technology.

In product care, Sealed Air is aggressively growing its on-demand packaging solutions for e-commerce. By selling the tools customers need to inflate their own bubble wrap, shipping costs are reduced and packaging speeds are increased by 20%. What's more, by inflating their own bubble wrap on demand, customers can reduce the space needed to store bubble wrap by 97%.

Given the disappointing guidance I would be cautious on Sealed Air. If management can sell the Diversey business, the stock could pop a few points, but it seems to me that Sealed Air will have little growth as long as the world economy remains sluggish.

I would say 'SEE ya later' to this stock.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.