Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Second-Quarter Profits for Ball Corp. Rose 23 percent


Ball shows profit increase
By Matthew Bunk

-- Second-quarter profits for Ball Corp. rose 23 percent on growth in all three of its business divisions, company officials said Thursday.

The Colorado-based company also reported sales increases across all segments.

Ball makes plastic and metal packaging and has an aerospace and technologies division that manufactures imaging and communications equipment. It operates a metal packaging plant in Fairfield.

Ball's quarterly income jumped to $90.7 million, or $1.60 a share, from $74.3 million, or $1.30 a share, a year ago. It beat analysts estimates by 17 cents, according to Thomson First Call.

Sales rose 9 percent to $1.47 billion. North American packaging sales were up 4 percent to $945.4 million and international sales rose 10 percent to $353.5 million.

Revenue from the aerospace division jumped 35 percent to $170.3 million from new contracts secured earlier this year.

Ball stock rose $1.41, or 2 percent, to $72.41 Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Six fewer accounting days in the second half of the year will make it difficult to compare to the first six months, Ball President, CEO and Chairman R. David Hoover said. But Ball is up to the challenge, he said.

"Still, barring the unforeseen, we currently believe that it is possible our second half results could exceed our first half results," Hoover said.

On Wednesday, Ball increased its dividend payout 33 percent and announced a 2-for-1 stock split. The split, the company's fourth since it was founded in 1972, will take effect Aug. 23. The 10-cent dividend will be paid Sept. 15.

Ball's board also authorized a buyback of 12 million shares of its common stock this year.

"We have generated significant free cash flow, which has enabled us to make strategic acquisitions, pay down debt, buy back our shares and increase the dividend we pay to our shareholders," Hoover said. "Splitting the stock is an acknowledgment of that performance."

Ball employs 12,600 people worldwide.

Reach Matthew Bunk at 425-4646 Ext. 267 or

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