Ball reports first quarter global beverage can volumes are up

During the first quarter of 2021, Ball Corporation has reported net earnings attributable to the corporation of $200 million. It increased comparable earnings per diluted share by 18% on 8% global beverage volume growth. The company’s EMEA and South American beverage can businesses experienced notably stronger comparable earnings, the new beverage can manufacturing facility in Glendale, Arizona, started production and the Ball Aluminum Cup began national rollout distribution at retail late in the quarter.

“Global projects in North America, South America and EMEA are expected to add at least 25 billion units of contracted beverage can capacity by year-end 2023 (off a 2019 base of 100 billion units), projects are on track and will contribute meaningfully to 2021 and beyond.” said John A Hayes, chairman and chief executive officer.

Beverage Packaging, North and Central America

Beverage packaging, North and Central America, comparable segment operating earnings for the first quarter 2021 were $140 million on sales of $1.3 billion compared to $146 million on sales of $1.2 billion in 2020.

Comparable segment earnings reflect 6% volume growth, the benefits from new contractual terms and higher specialty mix being more than offset by startup costs associated with three new manufacturing plants and the impact of lost production from winter storms.

Demand for aluminium beverage cans and bottles continues to outstrip supply across North America. The company’s new Glendale, Arizona, facility successfully started up during the first quarter, and the company anticipates the new Pittston, Pennsylvania, facility to start beverage can production by the end of second quarter. The company further anticipates Glendale and Pittston to exit 2021 with four lines operational in each facility. As needed, both facilities are scalable to add incremental capacity throughout 2022 and beyond to serve consumer’s growth for sustainable packaging, new product introductions and to offset cans currently being imported.

The timeline for the company’s recently announced construction of a new aluminium end manufacturing facility in Bowling Green, Kentucky, has been accelerated to align end capacity with even higher can demand. Bowling Green end manufacturing is now scheduled to begin in late 2021. Full-year 2021 startup costs are still anticipated to be in the range of $50 million.

Beverage Packaging, EMEA

Beverage packaging, EMEA, comparable segment operating earnings for first quarter were $100 million on sales of $796 million compared to $68 million on sales of $669 million in 2020.

First quarter comparable segment earnings reflect 5% segment volume growth, improving specialty mix and strong consumption trends in the UK., Nordics, Egypt and Russia. Packaging mix shift to sustainable aluminium cans for traditional and non-traditional beverages continues to accelerate, and demand is outstripping supply. Despite protracted country-by-country Covid-19 lockdowns, additional beverage can line investments in the UK, Czech Republic and Russia are largely on track to support regional contracted demand in 2021 and beyond.

During the period, the segment launched the world’s first ASI (Aluminum Stewardship Initiative) certified can with a major customer in Spain. The cans are certified according to ASI’s standards for responsible production, sourcing and stewardship.

Beverage Packaging, South America

Beverage packaging, South America, comparable segment operating earnings for first quarter were $93 million on sales of $487 million compared to $63 million on sales of $405 million in 2020.

Segment volume ended the quarter up 14% and specialty mix also increased to more than 65%. First quarter earnings reflect favorable price/mix and exceptional operating performance despite Covid-19 recurrences across South America. In Brazil, demand remains very strong and continues to outstrip supply as recyclable aluminum beverage packaging is favored over other substrates.

To support contracted volume growth and can-filling investments across South America, multiple can manufacturing investments are anticipated across its existing footprint in 2021 and beyond. The previously announced multi-line facility in Frutal, Brazil, is on schedule to begin production in the second half of 2021.

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