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WestRock (WRK) Down 5.7% Since Earnings Report: Can It Rebound?

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It has been about a month since the last earnings report for WestRock Company (WRK - Free Report) . Shares have lost about 5.7% in that time frame.

Will the recent negative trend continue leading up to its next earnings release, or is WRK due for a breakout? Before we dive into how investors and analysts have reacted as of late, let's take a quick look at the most recent earnings report in order to get a better handle on the important catalysts.

WestRock Q2 Earnings In Line With Estimates, Up Y/Y

WestRock Company reported second-quarter fiscal 2018 (ended Mar 31, 2018) adjusted earnings of 83 cents per share, in-line with the Zacks Consensus Estimate. However, the figure logged a year-over-year improvement of 54%.
 
Including one-time items, the company posted earnings of 86 cents per share in the second quarter compared with 40 cents per share recorded in the prior-year period.
 
Operational Update
 
WestRock’s total revenues rose 10% year over year to $4,017 million. However, revenues missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $4,064 million. The year-over-year improvement in sales was primarily driven by increased sales in the Corrugated Packaging driven by higher selling price/mix and Consumer Packaging segments. This helped mitigate lower Land & Development sales and absence of net sales from the company’s former Home Health & Beauty (HH&B) business in the current-year quarter due to the sale of the same in April 2017.
 
Cost of sales went up 8% year over year to $3,220 million in the second quarter. Gross profit improved 18% to $797 million. Gross margin expanded 130 basis points to 19.8% in the quarter. Adjusted segment EBITDA was $669 million compared with $547 million reported in the prior-year quarter.
 
Segment Performance
 
Corrugated Packaging: Sales at the segment improved 9% year over year to $2,244 million in the quarter. Adjusted segment EBITDA increased 39% year over year to $424.8 million.
 
Consumer Packaging: Sales at the segment went up 16% to $1,804 million from the year-ago quarter. Adjusted segment EBITDA surged 39% year over year to $242.7 million.
 
Land and Development: The segment’s sales came in at $26.7 million, a 73% plunge from $100 million in the prior-year quarter. Adjusted segment EBITDA for the segment was $16.2 million, an 8% decline from $17.7 million recorded in the prior-year quarter.
 
Financial Position
 
As of Mar 31, 2018, cash and cash equivalents were $266.5 million, down from $298 million as of Sep 30, 2017. As of Mar 31, 2018, total debt was $6,726.5 million, up from $6,544.8 million as of Sep 30, 2017. Cash flow from operations came in at $371.6 million in the reported quarter compared with $299.7 million recorded in the year-ago quarter.
 
During the quarter, WestRock completed the acquisition of all the assets of Plymouth Packaging, Inc. — a corrugated packaging company. Notably, the addition of Plymouth Packaging’s Box on Demand system will enhance WestRock’s differentiation in e-commerce and other custom applications, where on-site box making is required. The buyout will also fortify the company’s automated packaging systems business.
 
WestRock initiated integration planning for the planned acquisition of KapStone Paper and Packaging Corp. Pursuant to customary closing conditions. The acquisition is expected to close by the end of the September quarter or during the December quarter. Upon conclusion, the buyout is anticipated to be immediately accretive to the company’s adjusted earnings and cash flow. The acquisition will help WestRock expand its presence in the western United States and broadens the company’s differentiated paper and packaging solutions portfolio with the addition of attractive paper grades and distribution capabilities.
 
With these acquisitions, the company is strengthening its capabilities and solutions offerings for customers.
 
WestRock stated that it has achieved $64 million in year-over-year productivity improvements in the fiscal second quarter, and a run rate of $975 million of synergy and performance improvements since its creation.
 
How Have Estimates Been Moving Since Then?

In the past month, investors have witnessed a downward trend in fresh estimates. There have been three revisions lower for the current quarter.

WestRock Company Price and Consensus

VGM Scores

At this time, WRK has a nice Growth Score of B, a grade with the same score on the momentum front. Charting a somewhat similar path, the stock was allocated a grade of A on the value side, putting it in the top 20% for this investment strategy.

Overall, the stock has an aggregate VGM Score of A. If you aren't focused on one strategy, this score is the one you should be interested in.

Based on our scores, the stock is more suitable for value investors than those looking for growth and momentum.

Outlook

Estimates have been broadly trending downward for the stock and the magnitude of these revisions indicates a downward shift. Notably, WRK has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). We expect an in-line return from the stock in the next few months.




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