Ball Corporation (NYSE:BLL) is the world's largest producer of recyclable metal cans and counts companies such as Coca-Cola, Unilever and Molson Coors as its customers. The company maintains a fairly low profile and often stays out of the mainstream financial press and is somewhat overlooked by the general investment community. Trading at a modest 14.8 times 2015 earnings estimates, Ball Corp. has a very stable business model and has been able to grow the business rather significantly in recent years. The company's predictability and earnings growth opportunities are attractive attributes and should continue to support the shares of the company over the long term.
Ball Corp.'s commitment to creating shareholder value is significant
Ball Corp. is a strong cash flow generator and the company does not have significant capital expenditure requirements; each year, the company spends between $175 million and $200 million on maintenance capital expenditures. Since 2010, the company has grown EPS at a healthy compounded annual growth rate or CAGR of 11.6% and plans to continue to deliver long-term EPS growth in the range of between 10% and 15%. The company expects to drive this growth through a combination of share buybacks, operational efficiencies and growth opportunities. With a market capitalization of roughly $8.5 billion, management has shown a significant commitment to returning value to shareholders through share repurchases and dividends, including over $3.3 billion since 2003.
The company has large market share in North America and in a few key emerging markets and counts firms such as Crown Holdings (NYSE:CCK) and Rexam (OTC:REXMD) as competitors. Especially in emerging markets such as China and Brazil, growing wealth and urbanization will lead to greater demand for packaged food and beverages, which in turn will drive greater production of these goods, which should support demand for cans from Ball Corp. and their competitors.
Limited exposure to commodity price fluctuations is important
Ball Corp. is not significantly exposed to fluctuations in commodity prices in the short term, which should increase confidence in management's forecasts for the company's financial performance. In the company's most recent 10-K filing with the SEC, Ball Corp. discussed their exposure to fluctuations in the price of aluminum:
We manage commodity price risk in connection with market price fluctuations of aluminum ingot through two different methods. First, we enter into container sales contracts that include aluminum ingot-based pricing terms that generally reflect the same price fluctuations included in commercial purchase contracts for aluminum sheet. The terms include fixed, floating or pass-through aluminum ingot component pricing. Second, we use derivative instruments such as option and forward contracts as economic and cash flow hedges of commodity price risk where there is not an arrangement in the sales contract to match underlying purchase volumes and pricing with sales volumes and pricing.
Steady business model and growth should support shares over the long term
Ball Corp. currently trades for roughly 14.8 times 2015 earnings estimates and offers a modest dividend yield of 0.9%. The relative defensive and predictable nature of the company's business should help support the company's shares in an overall stock market downturn. Additionally, the company has strong potential to grow its earnings per share and returns to shareholders over the long term. While Ball Corp. is certainty not as flashy or as volatile as other companies in the market, management's prudence has produced strong returns for shareholders and they should be able to perform in the future.