Owens-Illinois 1st quarter profits show gains of 46%

Europe’s festive mood provides boost to sales

Headquarters for Owens-Illinois, Inc.
Headquarters for Owens-Illinois, Inc.

Bolstered by strong results from its European operations, Owens-Illinois Inc. on Tuesday reported a first-quarter profit of $101 million, or 62 cents a share, up 46 percent from $69 million, or 48 cents a share for the same period last year.

The Perrysburg-based maker of glass bottles and containers, saw its revenues stay nearly unchanged, with sales totaling $1.639 billion for the quarter compared with $1.641 billion in the same period a year ago.

Dave Johnson, the company’s vice president of investor relations, said the company was “very happy” with its first-quarter performance.

O-I saw a 2 percent year-over-year increase in its sales volume in terms of global tonnage shipped. It marked the third consecutive quarter that O-I’s tons shipped increased by 2 percent or more.

Sales volume in Europe rose 6 percent. Mr. Johnson said there is a more optimistic mood sweeping over Europe and that has translated to more sales of beer, wine, and other spirits.

“With respect to growth there, the overall sentiment is that things are no longer declining. It’s a stable environment over there,” Mr. Johnson said. “More O-I specific, we were able to recapture some [market] share in wine over there and are seeing the benefits flow through the operations.

“Beer in particular seems to be doing well. It’s been much warmer in Europe and that has benefited the beer volume,” he said.

Mr. Johnson added that O-I also has continued to reap savings in Europe through its ongoing efforts at cost-cutting.

In South America, O-I’s Brazil operations also reported higher sales volumes, though those were offset by a weakness in sales in the Andean countries.

In a statement Tuesday, O-I Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Al Stroucken said, “In Europe, we were especially pleased to see a positive-volume impact coupled with the clear benefits from our restructuring efforts.

   "Record-setting snow and cold in North America dampened profitability in the quarter, despite modest volume growth. Demand in South America exceeded our previous guidance, where strong volume gains in Brazil offset declines in the Andean countries. Financial performance in Asia Pacific suffered from expected volume declines and delayed recovery of cost inflation in mature markets.

“Overall,” Mr. Stroucken said, “higher year-on-year earnings demonstrate our ability to deliver strong financial results in the face of external headwinds.”

— Jon Chavez