AptarGroup, Inc. (ATR - Free Report) reported fourth-quarter 2017 earnings per share of 81 cents, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 71 cents. Also, earnings grew 5% year-over-year and came in above management’s guidance range of 68-73 cents per share.
On a reported basis, the company recorded earnings of 77 cents per share, which remained flat year over year.
Total revenues improved 16% year over year to $626 million in the reported quarter driven by 10% core sales growth and a 6% favorable impact from exchange rates. Core sales grew across each business segment, and in each end market and geographic region. Revenues also beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $584 million. Robust demand for innovative dispensing and drug delivery systems supported this year-over-year growth.
Cost of sales increased to $411 million from $353 million recorded in the year-ago quarter. Gross profit rose 15.5% year over year to $214.7 million, while gross margin contracted 20 basis points (bps) to 34.3%. Selling, research, development and administrative expenses flared up 16.7% year over year to $95.4 million. Adjusted operating income went up 14.8% year over year to $79.3 million. AptarGroup’s operating margin declined 10 bps year over year to 12.7%.
Total revenues in the Beauty + Homes segment were up 16% year over year to $335.5 million. Operating income increased 13.7% to $24.6 million from $21.1 million reported in the year-ago quarter.
Total revenues in the Pharma segment were up 18% year over year to $207.7 million. Operating income grew 16% year over year to $60.5 million in the fourth quarter.
Total revenues in the Food + Beverage segment rose 14.3% year over year to $82.7 million. Operating income increased 44% year over year to $6.8 million.
AptarGroup reported adjusted earnings per share of $3.44 in 2017, up 5.5% year over year. In addition, earnings beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3.35. On a reported basis, the company’s earnings increased to $3.41 per share from $3.17 recorded in 2016.
Revenues grew 6% year over year to $2,469 million from $2,331 million recorded in 2016. Revenues also outpaced the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2,343 million.
AptarGroup reported cash and cash equivalents of $714.4 million as of Dec 31, 2017, up from $466 million as of Dec 31, 2016. At quarter end, long-term debt was approximately $1,191 million, up from $773 million as of Dec 31, 2016. On Jan 18, 2018, AptarGroup announced a quarterly cash dividend of 32 cents per share payable on Feb 21, 2018.
Business Transformation Plan
In late 2017, Aptar began a business-transformation plan in a bid to become a more agile, competitive and customer-centric business. This plan includes a wide range of initiatives to drive sales growth, enhance operational excellence, and improve organizational health and effectiveness.
AptarGroup is poised to gain from its focus on the above-mentioned plan which will yield annual recurring incremental EBITDA of approximately $80 million by the end of 2020. The company expects to incur implementation costs of approximately $90 million over the next three years. It also anticipates capital investments related to the transformation plan of about $45 million, the majority of which will occur in 2018.
AptarGroup projects earnings per share for first-quarter 2018 to be in the range of 90-95 cents, excluding any costs related to its business transformation plan. The company expects each segment to report elevated first-quarter revenues over the prior year.
Share Price Performance
Over the past year, AptarGroup has outperformed its industry with respect to price performance. The stock has gained 11.8%, while the industry registered growth of 3.3%.
Zacks Rank & Key Picks
AptarGroup currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).
Better-ranked stocks in the same sector include Bemis Company, Inc. (BMS - Free Report) , Graphic Packaging Holding Company (GPK - Free Report) and Packaging Corporation of America (PKG - Free Report) . All three stocks carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 (Strong Buy) Rank stocks here.
Bemis has a long-term earnings growth rate of 7%. Its shares have gained 4%, over the past six months.
Graphic Packaging has a long-term earnings growth rate of 5%. The company’s shares have rallied 9.4% during the same time frame.
Packaging Corporation of America has a long-term earnings growth rate of 8.3%. The stock has gained 6.9% in six months’ time.
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