Analysts say prospects look good for Crown

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Currency

Crown Holdings reported a fourth-quarter loss as restructuring charges and other expenses impacted on its results but analysts say it is well positioned for growth.

The company, one of the largest worldwide producers of metal containers for the food and beverage industry, reported a loss of $14m compared with earnings last year due to factors including a loss on the translation of foreign currency and a charge related to a boost for its asbestos litigation reserve.

However, the packaging supplier said its net sales grew 9.2 per cent in the quarter over the same period in 2007, and it said that the increase reflects unit volume growth in both global beverage cans and food cans and the pass-through of higher raw material costs.

Standard and Poor’s Equity Research is optimistic about the food and drink packaging group’s growth prospects for 2009.

The analysts predict that demand for Crown’s products will remain stable and possibly rise modestly in developed markets in the near term as consumers are likely to eat at home more to save money during difficult economic times.

“Although the metal container industry is mature in many developed markets, we believe Crown has opportunities for modest expansion in these markets given its technological expertise and emphasis on new product development.

“Crown expects prices for tin plate to rise significantly in 2009, but we expect the company to raise its prices even more than its costs, which should lead to modest margin expansion,”​ said the analysts.

Meanwhile, Nova Chemicals, Canada’s largest chemical maker, reported a net loss of $214 million as weak demand for plastic resins hurt sales.

Sales tumbled 36 per cent to $1.15bn, the biggest decline since the fourth quarter of 2000, the company said in a statement.

Industry-average prices for polyethylene, used in bags, plastic films and bottles, dropped 34 per cent from a year earlier, and polyethylene sales volumes dropped 18 per cent, Nova said.

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