Conway confident as beverage can sales help improve Crown’s results

The chief executive of can making company Crown expects a “busy and promising” 2011 following the release of its final year results.

Higher unit sales of beverage and food cans worldwide helped to improve margins at the company with beverage can sales unit volumes rising 13% and food can volumes up 5% in the fourth quarter.

Commenting on the company’s fourth quarter results, John Conway said: “We are pleased to report that Crown’s improved performance for the quarter and 2010 demonstrates the ability of the company to stay focused on world class operating excellence and strict cost controls and to leverage our international manufacturing footprint, all while executing an aggressive expansion program to meet demand in many of the fastest growing markets across the globe. Our operations continued to perform well driven by global beverage can volumes increasing 13% and global food can volumes improving 5% in the fourth quarter. Performance improvement accelerated in the fourth quarter in emerging markets reflecting growing demand and increasing output from recent capacity additions.”

The company’s full-year results saw overall net sales of $7.9 billion. Approximately 72% of net sales were generated outside the US in both 2010 and 2009.

Gross profit for 2010 improved to $1.2 billion, or 15.7% of net sales. The increase reflects global sales unit volume growth and productivity improvements.

Selling and administrative expense for the year was $360 million compared to $381 million for 2009.

Segment income in 2010 was $890 million compared to $812 million in 2009.

Interest expense declined by $44 million in 2010 to $203 million from $247 million for the same period last year reflecting the impact of lower average debt outstanding.

Net income attributable to Crown Holdings was $324 million, or $2.00 per diluted share, compared to $334 million, or $2.06 per diluted share, in 2009.

Net debt (a non-GAAP measure defined by the Company as total debt less cash) was $246 million higher at December 31, 2010 than at December 31, 2009.

Going into 2011 Conway has predicted a positive outlook.

“We expect a busy and promising 2011. Our expansion projects are on schedule and budget with three new plants and four new line additions at existing plants expected to be commercialized during the year in exciting growth markets around the world,” he notes. “We have also announced four new plants scheduled to begin production during 2012. As we look out over the next five years, we believe new growth opportunities will continue to arise. In pursuing these opportunities, we remain committed to conservative deployment of capital by growing with our customers to meet long term demand in promising emerging markets.”

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