Greif's fiscal Q4 net income down to US$20.8M, from US$76.6M last year, as higher costs cut company's gross profit margin, but net sales up 14% year-over-year to US$1.1B on higher sales volumes, gains from acquisitions

DELAWARE, Ohio , December 7, 2011 (press release) – Greif, Inc. (NYSE: GEF, GEF.B), a global leader in industrial packaging products and services, today announced results for its fourth quarter and fiscal year, which ended Oct. 31, 2011. The company reported:

  • Fiscal 2011 net sales of $4.2 billion, operating profit of $337.1 million, net income of $176.1 million or $3.01 per diluted Class A share, operating profit before special items of $396.5 million, net income before special items of $218.2 million or $3.73 per diluted Class A share before special items and EBITDA before special items of $526.6 million; and
  • Fourth quarter net sales of $1.1 billion, operating profit of $69.1 million, net income of $20.8 million or $0.36 per diluted Class A share, operating profit before special items of $94.9 million, net income before special items of $39.0 million or $0.64 per diluted Class A share before special items and EBITDA before special items of $132.3 million.
David B. Fischer, president and chief executive officer, said, “The 2011 results included record net sales and record operating profit before special items and asset gains for the company as well as annual records for several of our businesses; however, our consolidated results were impacted by a decline in industrial packaging demand, particularly in Western Europe, and increased market pressure on both margins and volumes during the second half of the year. As in the past, management is responding promptly and decisively through specific contingency actions to mitigate future impact."

Consolidated Results
Fiscal 2011
Net sales were $4,248.0 million for 2011 compared with $3,461.6 million for 2010. The 23 percent increase was due to higher sales volumes (13 percent), which included an 11 percent increase from acquisitions and a 2 percent increase in same-structure volumes, increased selling prices (7 percent) primarily resulting from the pass-through of higher raw material costs and the positive impact of foreign currency translation (3 percent). The higher sales volumes were primarily due to acquisitions in the Rigid Industrial Packaging & Services and Flexible Products & Services segments plus same-structure growth in all segments.

Gross profit increased to $801.2 million for 2011 compared to $703.7 million for 2010 primarily due to higher sales volumes. Gross profit margin declined to 18.9 percent for 2011 compared with 20.3 percent for 2010, principally due to sales mix, inability to capture all cost increases in the Rigid Industrial Packaging & Services segment and higher costs of old corrugated containers in the Paper Packaging segment.

Selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses were $448.4 million for 2011 compared with $363.0 million for 2010. The $85.4 million increase was primarily due to the inclusion of SG&A expenses for acquired companies ($48.2 million), the negative impact of foreign currency translation ($10.1 million), higher professional fees ($11.7 million) and non-cash asset impairment charges ($4.5 million). Acquisition-related costs of $24.4 million and $27.2 million were also included in SG&A expenses for 2011 and 2010, respectively. SG&A expenses, as a percentage of net sales, were 10.6 percent and essentially flat year over year.

Operating profit was $337.1 million for 2011 and $325.4 million for 2010. Operating profit before special items was $396.5 million for 2011 compared with $379.4 million for 2010. The $17.1 million increase was due to Flexible Products & Services ($22.5 million increase), Paper Packaging ($13.8 million increase) and Land Management ($10.0 million increase), partially offset by Rigid Industrial Packaging & Services ($29.2 million decrease).

Interest expense, net, was $79.5 million for 2011 compared with $65.8 million for 2010. The increase was primarily due to the higher level of debt resulting from acquisitions and related working capital requirements.

Income tax expense was $71.1 million and $40.5 million for 2011 and 2010, respectively. The company's book tax rate was 29.2 percent for 2011 compared to 16.1 percent last year. The difference in the book tax rate was primarily attributable to the change in global earnings mix, which caused a higher percentage of the company's income to be generated from countries with higher tax rates, recognition of valuation allowances on deferred tax assets in 2011, an incremental benefit from an alternative fuel tax credit in 2010 and other discrete tax items recognized in these periods. Cash taxes related to 2011 activity were approximately 19%.

Net income was $176.1 million, or $3.01 per diluted Class A share and $4.52 per diluted Class B share, for 2011 and $210.0 million, or $3.58 per diluted Class A share and $5.40 per diluted Class B share, for 2010. Net income before special items was $218.2 million for 2011 compared with $255.3 million for 2010. Diluted earnings per share before special items were $3.73 compared to $4.35 per Class A share and $5.60 compared to $6.56 per Class B share for 2011 and 2010, respectively.

EBITDA was $467.2 million and $434.3 million for 2011 and 2010, respectively. EBITDA before special items was $526.6 million for 2011 compared with $488.3 million for 2010; this $38.3 million increase was primarily due to improved operating profit before special items for the Flexible Products & Services, Paper Packaging and Land Management segments.

Fourth Quarter of 2011
Net sales were $1,131.5 million for the fourth quarter of 2011 compared with $993.9 million for the fourth quarter of 2010. The 14 percent increase was due to higher sales volumes (7 percent), which included a 11 percent increase from acquisitions and a 4 percent decrease in same- structure volumes, increased selling prices (4 percent) primarily resulting from the pass-through of higher raw material costs and the positive impact of foreign currency translation (3 percent). The higher sales volumes were primarily due to acquisitions in the Rigid Industrial Packaging & Services and Flexible Products & Services segments and higher volumes in the Paper Packaging segment. The improved sales volumes were partially offset by weak market conditions and increased market pressure, especially in Western Europe.

Gross profit was $206.4 million for the fourth quarters of 2011 and 2010. Gross profit, as a percent of net sales, was 18.2 percent for the fourth quarter of 2011 and 20.8 percent for the fourth quarter of 2010. The decrease in gross profit margin was primarily due to sales mix, increased costs other than raw materials in the Rigid Industrial Packaging & Services segment and higher old corrugated container costs in the Paper Packaging segment compared to a year ago.

SG&A expenses were $118.9 million for the fourth quarter of 2011 compared with $98.4 million for the fourth quarter of 2010. The $20.5 million increase was primarily due to the inclusion of SG&A expenses for acquired companies ($13.1 million), the negative impact of foreign currency translation ($2.7 million) and higher professional fees ($5.3 million), partially offset by a reduction in performance-based incentive accruals. Acquisition-related costs of $5.2 million and $7.1 million were also included in SG&A expenses for the fourth quarters of 2011 and 2010, respectively. SG&A expenses, as a percentage of net sales, were 10.5 percent for the fourth quarter of 2011 compared with 9.9 percent for the fourth quarter of 2010.

Operating profit was $69.1 million for the fourth quarter of 2011 and $106.3 million for the fourth quarter of 2010. Operating profit before special items was $94.9 million for the fourth quarter of 2011 compared with $119.6 million for the fourth quarter of 2010. The $24.7 million decrease was due to Rigid Industrial Packaging & Services ($20.9 million decrease), Paper Packaging ($7.5 million decrease) and Land Management ($0.1 million decrease), partially offset by Flexible Products & Services ($3.8 million increase).

Interest expense, net, was $25.7 million for the fourth quarter of 2011 compared with $18.2 million for the fourth quarter of 2010. The increase was primarily due to the higher level of debt resulting from acquisitions and related working capital requirements.

Income tax expense was $21.5 million and $8.9 million for the fourth quarters of 2011 and 2010, respectively. The company's annual book tax rate increased to 29.2 percent compared to 24.3 percent for the first nine months of 2011 due to a shift in global earnings mix, which caused a higher percentage of the company's income to be generated from countries with higher tax rates, significantly impacting the fourth quarter book tax rate.

Net income was $20.8 million, or $0.36 per diluted Class A share and $0.53 per diluted Class B share, for the fourth quarter of 2011 and $76.6 million, or $1.30 per diluted Class A share and $1.97 per diluted Class B share, for the fourth quarter of 2010. Net income before special items was $39.0 million for the fourth quarter of 2011 compared with $88.8 million for the fourth quarter of 2010. Diluted earnings per share before special items was $0.64 compared to $1.51 per Class A share and $0.96 compared to $2.28 per Class B share for the fourth quarters of 2011 and 2010, respectively.

EBITDA was $106.5 million and $134.5 million for the fourth quarters of 2011 and 2010, respectively. EBITDA before special items was $132.3 million for the fourth quarter of 2011 compared with $147.8 million for the fourth quarter of 2010; this $15.5 million decrease was primarily due to lower operating profit before special items for the Rigid Industrial Packaging & Services segment.

Segment Results
Rigid Industrial Packaging & Services
Net sales were $3,014.1 million for 2011 compared with $2,587.9 million for 2010. The 17 percent increase was primarily due to higher sales volumes (6 percent), which included a 4 percent increase from acquisitions and a 2 percent increase in same-structure volumes, higher selling prices (7 percent) primarily resulting from the pass-through of higher input costs and the positive impact of foreign currency translation (4 percent).

Net sales were $812.3 million for the fourth quarter of 2011 compared with $704.8 million for the fourth quarter of 2010. The 15 percent increase was primarily due to higher sales volumes (5 percent), which included an 11 percent increase from acquisitions and a 6 percent decrease in same-structure volumes, higher selling prices (6 percent) primarily resulting from the pass-through of higher input costs, and the positive impact of foreign currency translation (4 percent), partially offset by lower sales volumes due to decreased demand in Western Europe on a same-structure basis.

Gross profit margin declined to 18.7 percent for 2011 from 20.9 percent for 2010 and to 17.9 percent for the fourth quarter of 2011 from 20.5 percent for the fourth quarter of 2010. The reductions from prior periods were primarily due to sales mix and increased market pressure on margins and volumes.

Operating profit was $226.3 million and $262.3 million for 2011 and 2010, respectively. Operating profit before special items was $261.8 million for 2011 compared to $291.0 million for 2010. Operating profit was $42.1 million and $77.8 million for the fourth quarters of 2011 and 2010, respectively. Operating profit before special items was $63.3 million for the fourth quarter of 2011 compared to $84.2 million for the fourth quarter of 2010. These decreases were primarily due to the lower gross profit margins for this segment.

EBITDA was $307.0 million and $336.3 million for 2011 and 2010, respectively. EBITDA was impacted by restructuring charges of $24.1 million and $21.0 million, acquisition-related costs of $9.9 million and $7.6 million and non-cash asset impairment charges of $1.5 million and zero for 2011 and 2010, respectively. EBITDA before special items was $342.5 million for 2011 and $365.0 million for 2010. EBITDA was $65.7 million and $96.5 million for the fourth quarters of 2011 and 2010, respectively. EBITDA was impacted by restructuring charges of $16.1 million and $5.1 million, acquisition-related costs of $3.6 million and $1.3 million and non-cash asset impairment charges of $1.5 million and zero for the fourth quarters of 2011 and 2010, respectively. EBITDA before special items was $86.9 million for the fourth quarter of 2011 and $102.9 million for the fourth quarter of 2010. EBITDA before special items was primarily lower due to the reduction in gross profit margins for this segment.

Flexible Products & Services
Net sales were $538.0 million for 2011 compared with $233.1 million for 2010. Net sales were $134.0 million for the fourth quarter of 2011 compared with $104.4 million for the fourth quarter of 2010. The increases were primarily due to same-structure growth and sales attributable to flexible intermediate bulk container companies acquired during 2010.

Gross profit margin increased to 21.4 percent for 2011 from 21.1 percent for 2010. Gross profit margin increased to 21.8 percent for the fourth quarter of 2011 from 19.5 percent for the fourth quarter of 2010. The change in gross profit margin was primarily due to operating efficiencies attributable to the Greif Business System.

Operating profit was $16.9 million for 2011 and operating loss was $1.4 million for 2010, respectively. Operating profit before special items increased to $41.3 million for 2011 from $18.8 million for 2010. Operating profit was $5.7 million and $0.1 million for the fourth quarters of 2011 and 2010, respectively. Operating profit before special items increased to $10.3 million for the fourth quarter of 2011 from $6.5 million for the fourth quarter of 2010. These increases were primarily due to acquisitions during 2010 and the improved gross profit margins for this segment.

EBITDA was $32.1 million and $2.3 million for 2011 and 2010, respectively. EBITDA was impacted by restructuring charges of $6.9 million and $0.6 million, acquisition-related costs of $14.5 million and $19.6 million and a non-cash asset impairment charge of $3.0 million and zero for 2011 and 2010, respectively. EBITDA before special items increased to $56.5 million for 2011 from $22.5 million for 2010. EBITDA was $10.4 million and $1.9 million for the fourth quarters of 2011 and 2010, respectively. EBITDA was impacted by restructuring charges of $3.0 million and $0.6 million and acquisition-related costs of $1.6 million and $5.8 million for the fourth quarters of 2011 and 2010, respectively. EBITDA before special items increased to $15.0 million for the fourth quarter of 2011 from $8.3 million for the fourth quarter of 2010. These improvements were primarily due to acquisitions during 2010 and improved gross profit margins for this segment.

Paper Packaging
Net sales were $675.0 million for 2011 compared with $624.1 million for 2010. The 8.2 percent increase in net sales was primarily due to higher sales volumes and higher containerboard selling prices attributable to realization of two containerboard price increases implemented in 2010. Net sales were $178.9 million for the fourth quarter of 2011 compared with $179.6 million for the fourth quarter of 2010 due to lower selling prices offsetting higher sales volumes.

Gross profit margin increased to 17.2 percent for 2011 from 16.8 percent for 2010. This increase was primarily due to higher selling prices and lower energy costs, substantially offset by higher raw material costs, including a year-over-year cost increase of approximately 27 percent or $39 per ton for old corrugated containers compared to last year. Gross profit margin declined to 16.0 percent for the fourth quarter of 2011 from 20.6 percent for the fourth quarter of 2010. This decrease was primarily due to higher raw material costs, including a quarter-over-quarter increase of approximately $48 per ton or 32 percent for old corrugated container costs compared to the same quarter last year.

Operating profit was $74.9 million and $55.5 million for 2011 and 2010, respectively. Operating profit before special items was $74.4 million for 2011 compared to $60.6 million for 2010. The $13.8 million increase was primarily due to the increase in net sales and the higher gross profit margin for 2011. Operating profit was $18.4 million and $25.4 million for the fourth quarters of 2011 and 2010, respectively. Operating profit before special items was $18.4 million for the fourth quarter of 2011 compared to $25.9 million for the fourth quarter of 2010. The $7.5 million decrease was primarily due to the lower gross profit margin for the fourth quarter of 2011.

EBITDA increased to $106.1 million for 2011 compared with $84.6 million in 2010. EBITDA before special items increased to $105.6 million for 2011 from $89.7 million for 2010 primarily due to the increase in net sales and the higher gross profit margin for 2011. EBITDA decreased to $26.6 million for the fourth quarter of 2011 compared with $32.9 million in the fourth quarter of 2010. EBITDA before special items decreased to $26.6 million for the fourth quarter of 2011 from $33.4 million for the fourth quarter of 2010 primarily due to the lower gross profit margin for the fourth quarter of 2011.

Land Management
Net sales were $20.9 million for 2011 compared with $16.5 million for 2010. Net sales were $6.3 million for the fourth quarter of 2011 compared with $5.1 million for the fourth quarter of 2010.

Operating profit and operating profit before special items were $19.0 million for 2011 compared to $9.0 million for 2010. The results of this segment reflect an increase in disposal of special-use properties (surplus, higher and better use and development properties) of $8.9 million for 2011 compared to $3.3 million for 2010. During 2011, a $2.5 million purchase price adjustment related to the expropriation of surplus property from a prior period was recorded. Operating profit and operating profit before special items were $2.9 million for the fourth quarter of 2011 compared to $3.0 million for the fourth quarter of 2010.

EBITDA and EBITDA before special items were $22.0 million for 2011 compared to $11.1 million for 2010. EBITDA and EBITDA before special items were $3.8 million and $3.2 million for the fourth quarter of 2011 and 2010, respectively.

Other Cash Flow Information
During 2011, the company’s net debt increased $448.0 million to $1,367.5 million at Oct. 31, 2011, primarily due to funding acquisitions, capital expenditures and increased working capital requirements. The company's long-term debt was $1,345.1 million and $953.1 million at Oct. 31, 2011 and 2010, respectively.

Cash flows provided by operating activities were $172.3 million for 2011 compared with $178.1 million the prior year and $149.6 million for the fourth quarter of 2011 versus $160.3 million a year ago.

The company paid $344.9 million and $179.4 million for acquisitions during 2011 and 2010, respectively, including 8 acquisitions in 2011 and 12 acquisitions in 2010.

Capital expenditures were $162.4 million, excluding timberland purchases of $3.5 million, for 2011 compared with capital expenditures of $144.1 million, excluding timberland purchases of $21.0 million, for 2010. Depreciation, depletion and amortization expense was $144.2 million and $115.9 million for 2011 and 2010, respectively.

On Dec. 6, 2011, the Board of Directors declared quarterly cash dividends of $0.42 per share of Class A Common Stock and $0.62 per share of Class B Common Stock. These dividends are payable on Jan. 1, 2012, to stockholders of record at close of business on Dec. 20, 2011.

Company Outlook
The company anticipates continuation of challenging market conditions in the first half of 2012 with recovery during the second half. Compared to 2011, this outlook assumes year-over-year stable raw material costs for rigid industrial packaging and flexible products compared to year- end 2011 levels, improved volumes in most regions, stable market conditions, and lower old corrugated container costs for Paper Packaging. Management will continue to closely monitor its businesses and take appropriate actions to adjust the company's cost structure. The company's three growth platforms are expected to provide solid contributions during 2012. EBITDA is anticipated to be between $500 million and $550 million for 2012.

Conference Call
The company will host a conference call to discuss the fourth quarter and fiscal 2011 results on Dec. 8, 2011, at 10 a.m. Eastern Time (ET). To participate, domestic callers should call 877-485-3107 and ask for the Greif conference call. The number for international callers is +1 201-689-8427. Phone lines will open at 9:50 a.m. ET. The conference call will also be available through a live webcast, including slides, which can be accessed at www.greif.com in the Investor Center. A replay of the conference call will be available on the company’s website approximately one hour following the call.

About Greif
Greif is a world leader in industrial packaging products and services. The company produces steel, plastic, fibre, flexible, corrugated and multiwall containers and containerboard, and provides reconditioning, blending, filling and packaging services for a wide range of industries. Greif also manages timber properties in North America. The company is strategically positioned in more than 55 countries to serve global as well as regional customers. Additional information is on the company's website at www.greif.com.

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