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Amcor plc (NYSE:AMCR)
Q2 2021 Earnings Call
Feb 2, 2021, 5:30 p.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good day, and thank you for standing by. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to the Amcor Half Year 2021 Results Conference Call. [Operator Instructions]

Thank you. It is now my pleasure to turn the conference over to Tracey Whitehead. Global Head of Investor Relations. Ma'am, please go ahead.

Tracey Whitehead -- Global Head of Investor Relations

Thank you, operator, and welcome, everyone, to Amcor's first half earnings call for fiscal 2021. Joining the call today is Ron Delia, our Chief Executive Officer; and Michael Casamento, our Chief Financial Officer. At this time, I'm directing your attention to our website, amcor.com, under the Investors section, where you'll find our press release and presentation which will be discussed on the call today. We'll also discuss non-GAAP financial measures, and related reconciliations can be found in the press release and the presentation.

Also, I'll remind you that statements regarding future performance of the company made during this call are forward-looking and they're subject to certain risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ from historical, expected or predicted results due to a number of factors. Please refer to our SEC filings, including our statements on 10-K and 10-Q forms to review these factors.

With that, I'll hand over to Ron.

Ron Delia -- Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Tracey, and thanks, everyone, for being with us today to discuss Amcor's first half results for the 2021 fiscal year. We appreciate you taking the time and making the effort to join the call. As Tracey mentioned, joining me on the line today is Michael Casamento, Amcor's CFO. And we'll start with some brief prepared comments before we take your questions. But the first place we'll start on Slide three is with safety, and everything we do at Amcor starts with safety. And this year, of course, we're also focused on keeping all of our co-workers healthy as well. And over the last 12 months, our COVID protocols have enabled us to do just that while also keeping our plants running to supply our food and healthcare customers around the world. And despite the added challenges of operating during the pandemic, our safety performance has continued to be a real highlight. Across the company, we reduced the number of injuries by almost 30% during the first half, and all of our business groups had fewer injuries compared to the first half last year. And we're also pleased to report that over half of our sites around the world were injury-free for at least 12 months.

So we still have not reached our goal of no injuries, but we need to acknowledge the commitment and focus of all of our coworkers to keeping each other healthy and also safe especially in the current environment. Our key messages for today are set out on Slide 4. First, Amcor had a strong first half of fiscal '21, ahead of our expectations, balanced across all businesses and regions. And that strong first half translates into higher expectations for the full year on the back of strong momentum in the base business. And so the second key message today is that we've raised our outlook for EPS growth, full year fiscal '21, to 10% to 14% on a constant currency basis. Third, we're also increasing cash returns to shareholders through a higher dividend and $200 million of additional share repurchases. And the fourth point is that we continue to believe Amcor has never been better positioned from an investment case perspective, and I'll spend a few minutes explaining why we believe that before I turn it over to Michael, who will describe the recent result in more detail. Slide five is a simple snapshot of Amcor today, and understanding who we are and what we do has to be the basis for understanding that investment case. The company has been around a long time, over 160 years, and is now the global leader in consumer packaging. And Amcor is a truly global company with scale positions in every major region, including over $3 billion of annual sales in faster-growing emerging markets, where we also have leadership in scale positions. Essentially, all of our sales are to fast-moving consumer or healthcare segments.

And the healthcare business now generates around $2 billion of sales each year to the medical device and pharmaceutical markets, which are among the most attractive places to play in the packaging industry. And finally, regardless of whether they're operating in developed or emerging markets or in consumer or healthcare segments, all of our businesses go to market with differentiated innovation capabilities, which are increasingly valued by our customers as they look for packaging to meet shifting consumer needs around the world. Slide six is another quick snapshot, this one to highlight Amcor's performance and track record over the last 10 years. And we've maintained, as a starting point, a consistent investment-grade capital structure despite several transformational transactions. And we've driven consistent sales and earnings growth and always had high cash conversion. And that cash flow has funded capital investment in the business and close to 30 acquisitions over this time period, along with share repurchases and a growing dividend with an attractive yield. And added together and shareholders have been rewarded as well as the company has delivered consistent operating performance.

Now going forward, we expect our operating performance and cash flow to remain at least this strong, and our approach to allocating that cash is set out on Slide 7. This is not new. There's no changes here to this framework but it's worth just reviewing. We consistently generate significant free cash flow every year. And this year, our free cash flow will be nearly $1.1 billion and that number will grow over time. And that cash flow will comfortably support reinvestment in the business as well as M&A or share repurchases. And in addition, we'll continue to pay an attractive and growing dividend, which has historically yielded between 4% and 5%. Taken together, the EPS growth and dividend yield should result in 10% to 15% of shareholder value each year. And so while we've been delivering returns to shareholders at this level for a long time now, momentum is building in the business and we believe this is a special time for the company and our investors. Slide eight is the slide we shared last year at our investor briefing and it remains relevant today.

And we believe that the Amcor investment case is as strong now as it's ever been and we set out the reasons why in this slide. And several of the points I've made already, global leadership positions, consistent growth from attractive markets, strong balance sheet and cash flow to fund growth and dividends and a consistent track record, and they're all important features of our investment case, but we also believe that momentum matters in business. And in that last respect -- in that respect, the last point on the slide might just be the most important. Momentum has been building across Amcor over the last couple of years, and we expect it to continue. And that should be clear from our recent performance, including the first half result and the increased full year guidance that we're announcing today. At the core of our investment case is the consistent organic growth Amcor generates in several ways, as set out on Slide 9. The starting point for the organic growth is the mix of growing end markets we play in, and that's especially true in emerging markets. We've had a long history of profitable participation and profitable growth in emerging markets. And high-impact locations like China and India continue to grow sales and profit at impressive rates, including in the most recent half.

Managing our sales mix across higher-value, more packaging-intensive consumer end markets like protein and premium coffee and more differentiated product types like hot-fill containers or barrier films drives consistent margin expansion and volume growth over time. And we have a global healthcare business approaching $2 billion in sales from every region of the world and across the pharmaceutical and medical device segments. Innovation is also an important growth driver for Amcor and probably the area where we are the most differentiated from our competition. Our customers are launching new products in Amcor packaging regularly. We've highlighted a few examples here of new and actually more sustainable products commercialized in recent months, including an extension of our HeatFlex family of products with the world's first microwavable, recycle-ready pouch for food and some premium coffee packaging using a bio-based polymer. And finally, a common thread that cuts across all of what we do is sustainability, which we believe is Amcor's greatest opportunity for growth and differentiation. A few more comments on Slide 10 to describe our comprehensive sustainability agenda, which includes our products but also our factories. Of course, we're deeply committed to the idea of responsible packaging and we're working with our partners upstream and downstream to address concerns about packaging waste in the environment. We've stepped up to take a leadership role in the development of responsible packaging, which we believe requires three things.

The first is package design, which accounts for the full product life cycle in addition to the end-of-life or waste profile. And Amcor is uniquely positioned here with leading R&D and innovation capabilities to handle the package design requirements, and we pointed out some examples already in this presentation. The other two requirements for responsible packaging require collaboration with others across our value chain, and Amcor has been active in that way as well to help drive improvements in waste management and consumer participation. A couple of examples over the last six months help highlight that work. In one case, Amcor has joined with 35 leading brands and retailers in The Consumer Goods Forum and a CEO-led initiative to develop package design rules to deliver packaging that's easier and more cost-effective to recycle. In another example, we've extended our work with the Carbon Trust to launch a label that can be printed on pack to indicate reduced CO2 intensity and provide greater transparency to the carbon footprint reductions enabled by our packaging. And the value created through our work in these initiatives and the progress we've made across a range of other ESG areas, including our EnviroAction program in all of our plants to drive greenhouse gas reduction, waste and water reduction, continues to be recognized by leading independent organizations, most recently MSCI and Dow Jones. Turning now to a summary of our first half results on Slide 11.

We had strong earnings growth with EPS up 16% in constant currency terms, including 7% organic growth and strength in both the Rigid Packaging and Flexibles segments. Demand for our products remain balanced across regions and businesses, resulting in volume and sales growth in every region and 3% for Amcor overall. The execution discipline and operating performance of the businesses drove cost performance, which also contributed to the organic profit growth. Roughly 6% of the EPS growth came from synergies from the Bemis acquisition, which was ahead of expectations, and cost synergies totaled an incremental $35 million pre-tax during the half. And lastly, benefits from share repurchases accounted for the remaining EPS growth. Free cash flow was in line with expectations, and our balance sheet remains strong. And the company returned $450 million of cash to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases during the first six months. Strength in the underlying business also enables us to increase cash returns to shareholders for the balance of the year. The Board declared a quarterly dividend of $0.1175 per share, which is higher than the prior year. And we announced today an additional $200 million of share repurchases, bringing the total announced this year to $350 million, which we expect to complete during the remainder of FY '21.

The key theme enabling the strong performance in the half across the company has been the ability of every one of our businesses to execute and outperform against the things that are within our control despite an incredibly challenging and volatile external environment. Safety, working capital, cost synergies, cost performance, innovation, in all of those areas, the execution has been outstanding and we could not be more pleased with the performance of our teams through the first six months of the year. The key message here is that Amcor had a strong first half with results ahead of expectations, and we have an improved outlook for the full year and increased dividends and share repurchases to go along with it.

With that, I'll hand over to Michael to provide some additional color on the financial performance for the half year and the outlook for the rest of 2021.

Michael Casamento -- Executive Vice President, Finance, and Chief Finance Officer

Thanks, Ron, and hi, everyone. I'll start with some comments on the Flexibles segment on Slide 12. Overall segment volumes were 2% higher than the prior year. As Ron mentioned, demand has been broad-based, with growth across all regions in the low to mid-single-digit range. From an end market perspective, we've seen solid growth in food, pet food and beverage categories. And this was partly offset by lower volumes in certain healthcare end markets, driven by reduced elective surgery rates and lower prescription trends. Higher volumes were partially offset by unfavorable price/mix, resulting in net sales being 1% higher than the first half of last year, excluding the unfavorable impact of currency and the pass-through of lower raw material costs. Adjusted EBIT for the period grew 9% in constant currency terms, and margins expanded by 110 basis points, driven by the higher volumes, strong operating cost performance and $30 million of cost synergy benefits, which I'll come back to in a moment.

Particularly pleasing to see that performance of the Flexibles business continue to improve as we extract benefits from the Bemis acquisition, deliver innovative new products to support customer growth and operate our plants efficiently. Now turning to Slide 13 and synergies. So in terms of cost synergies related to the Bemis acquisition, the ability to continue delivering benefits from overhead reduction, procurement and adjustments to our operating footprint has been exceptional despite the need to address some additional challenges prevented in a COVID environment. As Ron mentioned, we are tracking ahead of expectations with $35 million of benefits included in our first half results. And given the strong progress we have made across a range of synergy projects in the last six months, we now expect to deliver approximately $70 million in fiscal '21, which is at the top end of our previous guidance range. This means at the end of this fiscal year, we'll have reached $150 million of cumulative benefits. We also have good visibility to remaining initiatives, which leaves us very confident with regards to our original expectation of $180 million in cumulative benefits by the end of fiscal '22.

Turning to Rigid Packaging on Slide 14. In summary, the business delivered another outstanding result with organic growth driving year-to-date earnings 10% higher than the same period last year. Sales growth included a 6% increase in volume as well as a 4% price/mix benefit, including higher price to recover cost inflation in Latin America. Volume performance continues to be strong in North America, and mix was positive. Beverage volumes were up 9% compared with last year, and hot-fill container volumes were up 19%. There has been strong consumer demand across all beverage segments particularly in hot-fill categories, including juice and sports drinks, where Amcor also benefited from favorable customer mix. This strong demand reflects higher at-home consumption of packaged beverage products, and this has been supported by the work brand owners have done to increase the availability of multipacks across a wider range of product categories and through the launch of innovative brand extension and new health and wellness-orientated products in PET containers. Specialty container volumes are also higher as a result of continued growth in spirits, personal care and home cleaning categories. As a partial offset, volumes were marginally lower in Latin America.

This represents a sequential improvement and trends generally improved through the current half. While we saw higher volumes in Brazil, Central America and Argentina, month-to-month variability continues and performance remains mixed by country in the region. Strong overall EBIT growth of 10% reflects good leverage from the 6% volume growth and favorable mix across the business, partly offset by higher labor and transportation costs in North America, which were incurred in order to service the higher demand. So overall, we're happy with the performance of this business during the half year and believe we are well positioned to support customer needs and deliver continued growth. Moving to cash flow and shareholder returns on Slide 15. Adjusted free cash flow of $276 million was higher than the prior year, excluding approximately $50 million of U.S. cash tax payments that were deferred under the CARES Act from Q4 2020. And as a reminder, our cash flow is seasonally weaker in the first half of the fiscal year, and this outcome was in line with our expectations, which leaves us on track to deliver more than $1 billion in this financial year. We remain focused on improved working capital management, and execution has been strong across all businesses with our rolling 12-month average working capital sales ratio continuing to improve, closing at 8.2% for sales at the end of December. This represents more than a $300 million reduction in average working capital over the last 18 months since the Bemis acquisition.

Our financial profile remains strong, and leverage is 2.9 times on a trailing 12-month EBITDA basis, which is in line with where we would expect to be at this time of the fiscal year. As Ron mentioned, with strong annual cash flow and an investment-grade credit rating, the business has significant capacity and flexibility to invest in the many growth opportunities available to us as well as increased returns related through a growing dividend and further share repurchases. In terms of the outlook for fiscal 2021 full year on Slide 16, the strong start to the year through solid volume-driven organic growth and synergy outperformance as well as the momentum we see in the business are the two factors which have given us the confidence to raise our 2021 full year guidance for the second consecutive quarter. We expect the business will continue to execute, deliver further synergy benefits and grow organically as a global supplier for essential consumer and healthcare products. However, we are also maintaining a reasonably wide range of outcomes for the remaining six months of our fiscal year, which is appropriate given the ongoing uncertainty and complexity related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We now expect constant currency EPS growth range of 10% to 14%. And while we continue to expect adjusted free cash flow between $1 billion to $1.1 billion, we see more opportunities to deliver cash flow toward the top half of that range. To recap, the business is performing very well. Growth from organic sources and synergies is strong, our financial profile remains solid, and we are positioned to deliver another year of EPS growth in 2021, which will be ahead of our original expectations.

So with that, I'll hand it back to Ron.

Ron Delia -- Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Michael. Just in closing our opening remarks today and come back to where we started, Amcor had a strong first half to the 2021 fiscal year with results ahead of our expectations and growth balanced across the businesses and regions. And the strong start and momentum in the business has translated into higher expectations for the full year, and we raised our outlook for fiscal '21. We've also increased cash returns to shareholders through a higher dividend and an additional $200 million of share repurchases. And we continue to believe that the Amcor investment case has never been stronger with consistent organic growth and momentum building, substantial capacity to invest to grow and also to maintain an attractive dividend.

With that, operator, we'll open the line up for Q&A.

Questions and Answers:

Operator

Thank you, Sir. [Operator Instructions] Your first question comes from Keith Chau from MST Marquee. Your line is now open.

Keith Chau -- MST Marquee -- Analyst

Good morning or good evening, gentlemen. Thanks for taking my question. Good morning, Michael. The first one is just on that hot-fill product category. The numbers just seem to be beyond belief in the second quarter, volumes up 19% in first half 2021, up 12% in the first quarter. So the implied numbers going into the second quarter were north of 20% or close to the mid-20s. So I'm just wondering if you can give us a sense of, has there been anything in particular that's driven that, whether there's been a pull forward of volumes? How sustainable you think that is going into the balance of the year, please?

Ron Delia -- Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

Yes. No. It's a good question. It's a real highlight. Look, I think as we look across the business, that is a standout in terms of volume. I think there's a couple of things going on there. Firstly, retail sales are very strong. And our volumes track pretty closely to what we're seeing in retail for some of the main categories that we supply hot-fill containers for. So hot-fill juices, iced teas, isotonics, those categories have been very strong throughout the whole first half and especially in the second quarter. I think it's a combination of things, Keith. There's some additional sales going through multipacks and big-box retailers, which are certainly helping. There's an introduction of some new products. Our customer mix has been quite favorable. And I think all of those things are contributing. I mean clearly, these are higher growth rates than we would normally see. This is a segment that should grow kind of low to mid-single digits. So it's a particularly strong period.

Keith Chau -- MST Marquee -- Analyst

And Ron, do you think that particular strength can carry through into the third and fourth quarters or at least the third quarter? I know things are pretty hard to get a handle on under the consumer backdrop at the moment, but is this something that you're seeing persisting into the third quarter already?

Ron Delia -- Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

Look, I think some of the things that I mentioned will persist for a while but not at this level, Keith. I think as we look around demand patterns, there's a couple of anomalies that stand out for us. On the negative side, we've had soft healthcare volumes across the business. On the positive side, we've had strong beverage volumes. Both of those have to be influenced to some extent by at-home consumption and other COVID-related factors. So it's very difficult to predict that aspect of it. But I think some of the underlying trends around new product launches, multipack sales, some of our particular customers gaining share, those things, we would expect to continue. But all of that is incorporated into our overall guidance for the full fiscal year.

Keith Chau -- MST Marquee -- Analyst

Okay. Thank you. And then my second question is just on Bemis synergies. They continue to track ahead of expectations or at least up to the top end. And I think momentum in both FY '20 and the first half of 1H -- sorry, first half of FY '21 still remains pretty strong. So it seems like almost a foregone conclusion that the total target could be upgraded at some point in time. I know that hasn't been done at this juncture. But can you give us, I guess, a sense, Ron or Michael, on where, I guess, those synergies are overachieving relative to expectations?

Ron Delia -- Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

Yes. Look, to the first part of your question, I might just address first. I think it's -- we feel increasingly confident about the $180 million that we committed to. So I think we would expect to exit -- at the end of this fiscal year, we would be exiting at a run rate that would be at that level. Now it's also getting increasingly difficult to pull apart what's a synergy versus what's a base business driver. I mean as you can imagine, the businesses are completely integrated now.

As far as what's driving the performance, generally speaking, I think we've probably exceeded our expectations across the three big cost synergy buckets: so overheads which came out faster and probably yielded a bit more benefit than we would have thought; the procurement savings have been higher than we would have expected; and footprint, which is building momentum, is also positively contributing. And I guess if we're thinking about this year in particular, we've gotten some more footprint benefits than we thought we might be able to given the COVID backdrop, which makes those projects difficult to execute.

Keith Chau -- MST Marquee -- Analyst

Great. Thanks very much. I'll leave it there.

Operator

Your next question comes from Mark Wilde from Bank of Montreal. Your line is now open.

Mark Wilde -- Bank of Montreal -- Analyst

Yeah. Congratulations, Ron, Mike, Tracey, very nice start to the year. Mike, I wondered if -- or sorry, Ron, I wondered if there's any way you could help us, think about, sort of, how much of the strength you think is tied to more food at home, kind of a COVID-related issue. Because, we are seeing most consumer packaging companies report very good volumes over the last couple of quarters. So when you just -- when you think about your portfolio, how do you think about, what's kind of being driven by COVID versus just the underlying business?

Ron Delia -- Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Look, that's the question, Mark. And we -- like everyone else, we spend a lot of time trying to unpack that. And the conclusion we've come to, is that, we really had no net impact, one way or the other. And the way we get there, if you just take the big chunks of drivers, we've had a lot of extra cost in the business and increasingly so as we've continued to operate. We've had lots of folks out on quarantine. We've had lots of overtime to backfill those people. We have lots of extra shipping, going around in the rigids business. So, there's a lot of costs to be borne in this environment, first of all. And then the offset to that is obviously some stronger volumes in certain segments, like the beverage segment that we talked about a minute or two ago.

The offset is -- commercially is healthcare, which is a really high-margin, attractive, profitable segment for us, has been really soft. Medical device consumption generally has been very low with less elective procedures, surgeries and otherwise. Prescriptions have been way down. And so the sales in that healthcare business have been way off. So higher costs in many parts of the business, some strong sales in some segments like beverage offsetting some weak sales in medical and pharmaceutical, the net-net of all those puts and takes as we look at the business is really not much. And 3% sales growth is not too far off where we've been historically. We've been at about 2%, over the last five or six years. And the profit growth is flowing from that plus the cost performance and synergies in the business. So I mean we do a lot of work on this and there's a lot of interest in it, but our conclusion is, there's really no net impact.

Mark Wilde -- Bank of Montreal -- Analyst

Okay. And then, for my follow-up, I wondered, Ron, if you could just give us a kind of a quick lay of the land for plastic packaging, in your key markets from a political and regulatory environment. It seems like in the short-term, you've benefited because people have kind of moved to kind of more single-use products. I mean, we aren't seeing people here in the States go to the grocery store with kind of returnable bags anymore.

But at the same time, it seems like from a medium-term perspective we are seeing kind of more discussion in Europe. And even here in the US to some degree of producers having to fund sort of end-of-life solutions to packaging and that, winds up getting embedded in the cost. So, maybe if you could just give us a sense of kind of, what you're seeing from a political and regulatory standpoint, in just your main markets.

Ron Delia -- Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

Well, yeah, I mean, let's start with that part of your question. You asked about the political environment. I would maybe broaden that to just say the general environment, political, consumer, customer and otherwise. I mean, the short answer I would give you is, -- you asked, how we see that environment evolving. And the short answer, I would say, is its improving. And it's improving for a couple of reasons. One that you highlighted already, which is that, I think the value of packaging and the role it plays in food and healthcare has become even more evident over the last 12 months. I don't know if we need to spend a lot of time explaining that, but I think the idea of packaged food is clear. I think the distribution of medicines, and now we see vaccines, and how important packaging is. And the delivery devices are in that process. So I think the value of packaging has increased in the eyes of pretty much any observer, full stop.

As it relates to plastic, I think the other thing that's happening, which is quite helpful, is an increasing focus on greenhouse gases and climate. And I think as people, and stakeholders get more and more educated, holistically on the environmental impacts of different types of packaging. I think increasingly, plastic scores pretty well. And that's why we continue to see our customers very focused on, finding better alternatives for the end of life of their packaging, but increasingly focused on doing what they're doing today with lighter weight and better functionality. I think the point you made about, funding waste collection, extended producer responsibility, things like that, that has a role. Because clearly, we need the waste management infrastructure in place around the world to address the waste problem that we have and that needs to be funded. And there are good, successful models where funding that's generated through EPRs goes directly to waste infrastructure and can certainly help alleviate the problem. There's nothing wrong with that. We're in favor of well-designed EPRs as long as they're focused and targeted at the right level of infrastructure. So generally speaking, the environment has improved. We expect it to continue to improve as people get more educated on the total topic.

Mark Wilde -- Bank of Montreal -- Analyst

Okay. That's really helpful. Thanks very much. I'll turn it over.

Operator

Your next question comes from Ghansham Panjabi from Baird. Your line is now open.

Ghansham Panjabi -- Baird -- Analyst

Yeah. Thank you. Good day everyone. I guess going back to rigids, Ron. I mean 10% sales growth, 6% of which was volume, 4% price/mix why didn't that translate into a higher realization in terms of EBIT growth? I know it's very respectable at 10% but just curious if something in terms of incremental costs held that number back.

Michael Casamento -- Executive Vice President, Finance, and Chief Finance Officer

It's Michael here. I can probably take that one. Look, the -- so we're really pleased with the overall performance of rigids for the half. As you said, the volume growth was 6%. We had some price/mix benefit. Largely, that was recovery of inflation in Latin America. So when you see that then, the leverage through the P&L, we grew 10% for the half. So we're pretty pleased with that. Some of the -- we had positive mix as well in the hot-fill container business.

The offset really, which Ron has touched on before, is we did have some higher operating cost during the period just to deal with that really strong demand both in labor and then shuttling and freight costs around the network just to be able to meet the demand for our customers. So putting that all together, we're really pleased with where the growth ended up for the half in the rigids business.

Ghansham Panjabi -- Baird -- Analyst

Got it. Thanks for clarifying. And then if we switch to Flexibles, it looks like volumes were relatively even for your first two quarters. And I think you mentioned Europe picked up as the second quarter unfolded. Was the increase in Europe due to the expanded lockdowns as the quarter unfolded? And was it the same case in North America as well? And just more broadly, how do you expect volumes to play out for the segment during the back half of your fiscal year? Thanks.

Ron Delia -- Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Look, volumes were very comparable from Q1 to Q2. There was a bit of momentum picking up into Q2 particularly in Europe, where we had more of a sluggish Q1, I would say, rather than an extraordinary Q2. We're in the low single digits across both quarters, and we would expect that to continue into the second half. Again, I think when you net it all out, the healthcare softness more than offset any extra volumes in some of the food segments. And so the low single-digit performance that we had in the first half is more or less what we would expect to see in both of those big businesses.

Ghansham Panjabi -- Baird -- Analyst

Got it. Thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from John Purtell from Macquarie. Your line is now open.

John Purtell -- Macquarie -- Analyst

Good evening, all time guys. How are you?

Ron Delia -- Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

Hey, John.

John Purtell -- Macquarie -- Analyst

Just a couple of questions there. Just in terms of raw materials, obviously, you've seen some decent uplifts in ore-related costs coming through at least on a spot basis. I mean what was the impact on raw mats -- or from raw mats in the second quarter? And how are you expecting that to play out through Q3 and Q4?

Ron Delia -- Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Look, John, it's a good question. It was definitely a modest headwind in the Flexibles segment. It's -- we have no impact really in rigids, because the pass-through mechanisms are quite frequent. But in Flexibles, our raw material pass-through is going to affect every three to six months. And so we did have a bit of a lag in the first half, really in the second quarter, relatively modest. And we would expect some continued headwinds into this quarter. But again, that's factored into our guidance. And you know from looking at us over time that the pass-through and recovery mechanisms are well-refined in Amcor. Any impacts we have, positive or negative, are just timing.

John Purtell -- Macquarie -- Analyst

Thank you. And just a second question coming back to rigids and the higher transport and labor costs that you've seen. I mean presumably, those will normalize as demand comes back to some level of trend. But if demand does stay high and therefore, costs stay high, are you able to recover those because it does appear there was limited pass-through in this period?

Michael Casamento -- Executive Vice President, Finance, and Chief Finance Officer

Yeah. Look, John, I think it would depend on what the costs were and what the reason was. I mean typically, with demand at the level that we had this period, there is some shuttling and moving around the network that we have to do to meet the customer demand. And from a labor standpoint, as Ron touched on, part of that was due to higher absentee levels particularly in Q2 due to COVID. So you'd expect perhaps some of that normalizes over time and would have less of an impact. But regardless, when you have strong demand like that, you are going to see some cost increase.

John Purtell -- Macquarie -- Analyst

Okay. Thank you.

Operator

And your next question comes from the line of Brook Campbell from Crawford, JPMorgan. Your line is now open.

Brook Campbell-Crawford -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

Yeah. Thanks for taking my question. Ron, just one on sustainability. You continue to talk about sustainability to be the greatest growth opportunity for the business. I'm just trying to understand, do you think sustainability will allow you to take share and improve mix and basically grow stronger than -- and if it wasn't a focus area? Or do you think it's a necessary thing you need to do just to hold share and keep yourselves where it is, I guess, over the next five years where you -- when you're looking to reach those targets?

Ron Delia -- Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

Look, Brook, we would think for the foreseeable future, it's a share opportunity and a margin opportunity. And that's because of the differentiation that we're going to bring to the more complicated aspects of the whole equation. So when we look at some of the products we've launched in the last 3, 4, 5 months that are more sustainable, if we look at the retortable pouch for pet food and then the human food version that we launched with Mars for microwavable rice, I mean that's just a different, better mousetrap. And we've got the only product in the market that's got that sustainability profile. So clearly, there's an opportunity there to take share. There's also obviously a higher level of value that's delivered to the customer in those two instances.

We've got a PVDC-free shrink film called Eco-Tite, which is another example for protein. I mean again, all of these -- the more differentiated they are, the more opportunity for share and ultimately margin for the foreseeable future. There'll be a point down the road, well down the road where some of those types of products will be expected. But certainly, in the short, medium term and for as long as we can see, we're going to have a big advantage that should turn into some commercial benefits.

Brook Campbell-Crawford -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

Yeah. No. That's understood. And I guess just wondering if you think at some point you'll be able to frame up that opportunity and provide some sort of target or pull apart in your financials where the benefit is going through. Or does it all just kind of get washed up and we can just talk about it qualitatively?

Ron Delia -- Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

Well, I think you're going to see it continue to flow through the sales line and I think you're going to continue to see margin expansion, and that will be a more meaningful part. The sustainability dimension of our products will be a more meaningful part of the top line as well as the margin line. At the same time, we'll be managing the mix and we'll be exiting certain products as well. And so I think it will come out in the wash, but it clearly sets us apart from our competition, and that's got to be nothing but positive from a commercial perspective.

Brook Campbell-Crawford -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

Understood. Yeah. Last one from me, maybe just for Michael. Just having a look at corporate costs, looks like in the half, stepped up from sort of $35 million in the prior period up to $48 million and despite some synergies there in the current quarter, so an underlying increase there in corporate. Just wondering if you could provide some examples really of what's driven that increase.

Michael Casamento -- Executive Vice President, Finance, and Chief Finance Officer

Yeah. Look, it's largely phasing, Brook. We had -- it was particularly in Q1 where we had some higher costs from a phasing standpoint around kind of insurance claims and just timing of management incentives and the like. As we look forward, we'd expect that to more normalize. And the full year, though we're not providing guidance, we'd expect corporate cost to be there or thereabouts, perhaps slightly higher than last year on the back of inflation and other things. But generally speaking, we'd expect a more normalized view by the time we get to year-end.

Brook Campbell-Crawford -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

Okay. Thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from Kyle White from Deutsche Bank. Your line is now open.

Kyle White -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Hey, hope everyone's doing well. Thanks for taking the questions. Just to focus on the EPS guidance raise, 2 consecutive quarters where you've raised the guidance here yet your free cash flow has remained unchanged both times. Just curious what the offset is. Is it working capital with kind of the increases we have in resin? Or is there something else there?

Michael Casamento -- Executive Vice President, Finance, and Chief Finance Officer

Yeah, I can take that one. To your question, I think -- look, we've given a relatively wide range on the cash flow of $1 billion to $1.1 billion. With this guidance upgrade, what we're seeing is that we'd expect now probably more to be at the upper end of that $1 billion to $1.1 billion range. So though we haven't raised the guidance at this stage, we'd say we're going to be at the upper end of that range. And if that changes, we'll come back to you in the next quarter.

Kyle White -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Sounds good. And I want to focus on recycled resin. I think you're pushing toward 10% of your resin purchase or consumables being post-consumer recycled resin by 2025. Are there any limitations on how high this could be as a proportion of your overall resin buy in terms of maintaining integrity and characteristics of certain packages? It's probably most applicable to your rigids here. And then, I hear from recyclers that there really just isn't the end market demand for PCR necessarily. But on the other hand, it seems consumers want more sustainable products. So I'm just kind of curious what's the disconnect here.

Ron Delia -- Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

That would be a good question. I think there's incredible demand for PCR. In fact, you asked about limitations and you went to the technical thresholds. And the answer to that one is really there are no technical thresholds, Kyle. I mean we're making containers pretty much for every segment now at 100% PCR in the rigids business. The consumption of recycled resin in the rigids business has dramatically increased in the last 18 months even despite the COVID backdrop. So, we've gone from about 4% or 5% of the resin that we processed to exiting December at about 10% of the total resin that we process in that business, and that number will go up again by June.

So, there really is no limit. There's no technical limit to the amount of recycled content we can use in the container. We're making plenty with all PCR. The constraint may be, at a point in time not too far into the future, a limitation on supply. And so we, along with our customers and consumers, in fact, obviously, are sending every demand signal possible that there is going to be an appetite to source PCR. So I'm not sure where the disconnect is.

Kyle White -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Got it. Is there maybe -- is it -- from like a cost standpoint, what's the differential from using virgin over PCR?

Ron Delia -- Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

Well, it's -- there's a premium at the moment and there typically has been, but there's also a value premium as well. And so, I think there's the cost-plus aspect to the pricing mechanism. But more importantly, this is going to be an expected input to the end products that we're making and that our customers are packaging their products. And so, I think it's -- I wouldn't want to say it doesn't matter what the cost. Clearly, it will, but there is a premium. I think there's a demonstration in practice that there's a willingness to pay that premium.

Kyle White -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

Got it. Kudos in the next and the balance of the year.

Ron Delia -- Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from George Staphos from Bank of America. Your line is now open.

George Staphos -- Bank of America -- Analyst

Thanks, everyone. Thanks for the detail. Congratulations on the progress so far. Ron, I wanted to hit a little bit on the new products to the extent that you can, recognizing that they are, by definition, smaller and perhaps the growth that you're seeing in them is not meaningful. Can you talk maybe qualitatively or, as much as you want to, quantitatively about what you're seeing in terms of AmLite and some of the other products -- the growth that you're seeing? And I was particularly interested in what you're seeing out of the Eco-Tite product and whether you're getting any measurable market share in the protein market with that film.

Ron Delia -- Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. Those are really good examples of having a differentiated product and a differentiated offering that even the customers now are trying to reconcile and get their heads around in terms of what they can and can't do. The AmLite structure, the basic chemistry behind it, is it's got wide applications. So we've launched the product for pet food first. And then we've also more recently announced a rice package that essentially uses similar technology.

The demand has been really far exceeded our expectations. And now we're going to have to scale up the capacity, which is a good thing to deliver against that demand. But it's a good example of solving a problem that didn't seem to have a really easy answer maybe 12 months ago for these big brand owners and also their smaller competitors. So, I'd say watch this space on AmLite. There's incredible appetite not only from the European customer base where the product was first launched but also around the world. India, Brazil, obviously North America, China, there are kind of advanced orders or a book build, if you will, taking place globally for that structure. On Eco-Tite, this is a recycle-ready structure, but maybe even more importantly right now, it's a PVDC structure -- or PVDC-free structure, sorry, for protein, which is also a major concern for many brand owners to get PVDC and chlorides out of their packaging. And so this one has been targeted at the European protein market in the first instance. There's a lot of take-up there where that material is of particularly high concern. It's pretty early days, but I would expect that demand to start to also come from the other regions of the world as well. So I mean you alluded to it. Neither of these products are going to change the overall revenue profile of the company in a given quarter. But over time, the cumulative momentum of products like these is going to help generate good top line growth and good margin.

George Staphos -- Bank of America -- Analyst

Thanks Ron. My second question, if I look at the performance over the first six months -- again, as you mentioned, it's in line -- or ahead of your expectations and you are performing well on any number of KPIs that you point to. When I look though at Flexibles, there was a little bit of deceleration in EBIT from the three-month to the six-month period. There was also a little bit of deceleration. Even though I know you're raising your target for synergies in the synergy momentum, it was $20 million in 1Q. It was $35 million through the six months. So if you can give us maybe a look underneath the hood with all the things that are going well for you in Flexibles, what's causing the minor deceleration that we've seen from three-month to the six-month period? Thank you very much.

Ron Delia -- Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

Yes. Look, George, the organic performance of the business is pretty similar from period to period. In fact, we had a modest pickup in the base business organic growth, let's say, from Q1 into Q2. Q2 was modestly higher than Q1 from an organic growth perspective. I think what you're seeing is just the comp, just the year-on-year impact of the synergy capture, which in the prior year was three to six to nine months into the acquisition, and a lot of low-hanging fruit drove higher synergy benefits in those first couple of periods. So we're just cycling higher levels of synergy in the prior year. And over time, that's going to continue to dissipate as a comp. But the organic performance of the business has actually picked up a bit, and we expect it to sort of stay at that level and build momentum through the second half as well.

George Staphos -- Bank of America -- Analyst

Thanks Ron. I'll turn it over.

Operator

And your next question comes from Laurence Gandler from Credit Suisse. Your line is now open.

Laurence Gandler -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Thanks guys. A lot of progress in the business. And Ron, you made such good progress with Bemis. I'm wondering why you guys are buying back shares. It seems for anybody born in the last century, the world's expensive except for the packaging sector. So I'm just wondering how you're feeling about valuations in the packaging sector. And it seems incongruous that you're buying back shares when it seems like it's relatively inexpensive.

Ron Delia -- Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

That's a great observation, Larry. First of all, you've watched us for a long time. We're active acquirers and we would expect to continue to acquire. So that's the first priority. It's to reinvest in the business, grow the business, continue to consolidate and acquire. And we're certainly going to get increasingly active as the Bemis integration and synergy capture comes to a close. And we'll be actively looking at now, as you'd imagine. And the benefit of doing an on-market buyback is flexibility. So if we were to come across an opportunity that required more capital, we could always suspend the share repurchases although, as you also know, most of the deals in our space are pretty small. So in all likelihood, we could fund acquisitions and continue the share repurchases.

I think the last point I would make comes to the way you asked the question, which is around value. And I think we would say as we look across the industry, yes, asset values are relatively high but the best value in the industry right now is Amcor. And so what better time to buying shares in the company than right now, where we have clear line of sight into where the business is traveling and the momentum that the business has. So we would never try to be stock-pickers here. But from a value perspective, we think Amcor is probably the best value in the sector at the moment.

Laurence Gandler -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Okay. Just a clarification on this first question because I won't ask a second one. Public company or private company, are you seeing any disparity in valuations there? To me, it seems like actually public company valuations might be more attractive than private company at the moment?

Ron Delia -- Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

Look, there's not a whole lot of deals getting done, right? So you'd have -- the mark-to-market, if you want, the private assets only happen when there's a transaction. There's been a lot of froth, I would say, on the deals that have been done. So there are certainly asset prices that have been pretty high.

And the market will pay what the market will pay for a public equity. And I think it becomes more of a relative game in the public markets, relative attractiveness of the sector and the players in it to all the other alternatives in the public markets. And there's just a lot of excitement around certain growth segments that maybe seem more appealing to people at this point in time.

Laurence Gandler -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Okay. Thanks, Ron. Just my second question relates to some research I did back a couple of months ago regarding small customers in the U.S. And it seems to me that that's like a $5 billion market. To frame the question, you guys had, as you disclosed in your investor presentation, some 6,000 small customers in Europe, but only 850 small customers in North America. So it seems like a big opportunity. Any progress there in terms of addressing the small customer market more broadly and deeply in the U.S.?

Ron Delia -- Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

Really good progress and it is a great opportunity. I mean, you flagged it and we've also flagged it in different forms. We've been after it in rigids for a long time in the regional beverage space. We continue to see double-digit growth from those customers. Flexibles, the legacy Bemis business had identified this as a market segment, if you will, that offers some really attractive characteristics. They also continue to -- that business also continues to generate higher-than-average growth, higher than the rest of the portfolio. I think as far as the impact on the overall result, you have -- maybe there's the challenge of small numbers, but very high growth rates. So I would say watch the space over time, continues to be a part of the market that we're excited about.

Laurence Gandler -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Okay. Thanks, Ron.

Operator

And your next question comes from Richard Johnson from Jefferies. Your line is now open.

Richard Johnson -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Thank you very much. Ron, my first question is just on R&D and I know you're spending -- I think you referred to it as roughly $100 million a year. I was wondering if you could sort of, talk around where that's going. And what I mean by that is if you would, sort of, put it into various categories, what percentage of that goes to film development or material science or product development and design and that sort of thing?

Ron Delia -- Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

Yes. Look, it's a good question. If you break it down, I mean, I wouldn't give you a number, but what I would say is thematically, a lot of the design work that we do is with customers. In many cases, we actually get reimbursed for that work. And there's a lot of activity in both Manchester, Michigan in the rigids business and in Wisconsin in the Flexibles business in North America, doing design work that has also, at times, been done by advertising agencies. So that's an increasing part of the activity but also one that, quite often, we get compensated for.

We also, on the other end of the spectrum, do advanced technology development on material science, films, barriers and things that will benefit the business in the medium term. And in the middle is where most of the spend is, which is application development, product development and product commercialization. If I was to use the 80-20 rule, I would say probably 70% or 80% of it is in that middle area.

Richard Johnson -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Got it. Super helpful. Thanks. And then I just wanted to ask around -- or try and get a sense of what your view is on the broader competitive environment. And the reason I ask that -- and that's in Flexibles. The reason I ask that is you made reference to your recyclable retort pouch that you're doing for Mars. But my understanding is there are competing products that have been launched as well. So I'm just trying to get an understanding of, one, what -- where you feel you are competitively and whether there's been any significant changes. And has anything changed in the industry, which has always been the case that technology hasn't always been a barrier of entry?

Ron Delia -- Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

Well, I think it's becoming more of an increasing barrier to entry. There's a lot of announcements, particularly around sustainability and product attributes. There's announcements every week. You can imagine that would be across all of those and also across what we believe to be the makeup of some of those products. And we maintain that on the products that we've highlighted here today that we have the only solutions in the marketplace that have the attributes that we described.

So in terms of the broader competitive environment, nothing has changed of any substance. I think it's never been a place where you see really rapid changes in the competitive set, and we're not necessarily seeing that today.

Richard Johnson -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Got it. If I could sneak a really quick one in. Just on the shareholder value creation model, which has obviously been in place for quite a number of years now, in the first few years of its existence, there was quite a good correlation between the TSR and the total shareholder return and the shareholder value accretion. That hasn't really been the case in the last few years. I was just wondering, from your perspective, what you think is missing.

Ron Delia -- Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. I think that's the kind of thing that plays itself out over time. I mean, if you think of a 10-year view, it lines up actually pretty well. And we would expect over the following 10 years, it will line up pretty well again. From time-to-time, again, there's relative valuations in a public market that make certain sectors and certain industries more or less attractive. I think there's a bit of that over the last few years as well as segments -- sectors like tech and others have really had incredible returns. So I would expect, over time, the two converge as they have historically.

Richard Johnson -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Fantastic. Thanks. And well done on the results.

Ron Delia -- Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks.

Operator

Your next question comes from Nathan Reilly from UBS. Your line is now open.

Nathan Reilly -- UBS -- Analyst

Hi, Ron. Just a question just around, I guess, manufacturing actually just in the context of some of the comments you made around the momentum that you're seeing in the business and you're picking up some of the volume growth, which we've seen this quarter as well. Can you give us a quick update just on where you're at from a manufacturing capacity and utilization point of view around the network at the moment and just what you're thinking about reinvesting in that network for growth in the near-term?

Ron Delia -- Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

Well, let me start with the first part and then Michael can talk about the second part, which is around the reinvestment profile of the business going forward. I mean, look, at the moment, we're at a comfortable utilization level and an efficient utilization level probably with the exception of rigids more recently, as Mike alluded to. So when we talk about extraordinary cost to service extraordinary demand, that is one of the outcomes of running at very, very high capacity utilization, probably too high over time. Now we don't expect that to continue, as we've talked about.

But other than that segment -- and then the inverse would be true in healthcare, where the demand has been soft. Generally speaking, we're running at a more normal level of utilization.

And then as far as what does that mean for capital going forward, maybe Michael can talk to that point.

Michael Casamento -- Executive Vice President, Finance, and Chief Finance Officer

Yes. Sure, Ron. Yes. So look, I mean capital expenditure, I think we -- last year, we spent around $400 million. Probably -- that was a year after the acquisition, which probably was a little light than we would normally have. Typically, we'd invest around depreciation a little bit more depending on what the requirements were in a given period. But this year, look, we're expecting that, that will probably be more around 10% above where we were last year, so around that $450 million range. And that's really taking into account some of those additional needs for growth CapEx across the network and new technologies as well.

So I think as we look forward, that's kind of where we see the CapEx spend is, in that $400 million to $500 million range, which we think is sufficient -- more than sufficient to cover the expanding growth requirements and the technological advancement.

Nathan Reilly -- UBS -- Analyst

Okay. Thanks for that.

Ron Delia -- Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Nathan.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes our call for today. I will hand it back to Ron Delia for any closing remarks.

Ron Delia -- Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, operator. Thanks to the participants on the line for all the questions. Just to close off where we started, we had a strong first half to fiscal 2021, results ahead of our expectations and performance balanced across the businesses. That start has translated into higher expectations for the full year, and so we've raised our outlook for fiscal 2021. We've also increased cash returns to shareholders through a higher dividend and $200 million of additional repurchases. And then we conclude with probably the most important point, which is that we continue to believe that the Amcor investment case has never been stronger. Thanks very much, operator. And with that, we'll close the call.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 60 minutes

Call participants:

Tracey Whitehead -- Global Head of Investor Relations

Ron Delia -- Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer

Michael Casamento -- Executive Vice President, Finance, and Chief Finance Officer

Keith Chau -- MST Marquee -- Analyst

Mark Wilde -- Bank of Montreal -- Analyst

Ghansham Panjabi -- Baird -- Analyst

John Purtell -- Macquarie -- Analyst

Brook Campbell-Crawford -- JPMorgan -- Analyst

Kyle White -- Deutsche Bank -- Analyst

George Staphos -- Bank of America -- Analyst

Laurence Gandler -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Richard Johnson -- Jefferies -- Analyst

Nathan Reilly -- UBS -- Analyst

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