Smurfit likely to attract renewed bid from US firm

Smurfit likely to attract renewed bid from US firm

Smurfit Kappa will likely in time attract a renewed offer from International Paper after the Irish firm resisted its takeover offer last year, broker Cantor Fitzgerald has predicted.

Analyst Darren McKinley said there was a “high probability” that International Paper will renew its offer sometime after June — the earliest date that, under stock market rules, the US firm can relaunch any offer for Smurfit.

The packaging company argued at the time that International Paper’s offer — which was worth as much as €39 a share — undervalued its global operations.

The shares have since slid back to €26.96, valuing the Irish firm at almost €6.3bn.

Since the offer, Smurfit has grown by acquisition, which could make it more attractive to International Paper to renew an offer, Mr McKinley said.

“Speculation may start to grow again given where the shares are trading and the opportunity for IP to approach again,” he said.

At almost €27 a share, Cantor Fitzgerald believes Smurfit is undervalued and ascribes a “fair value” price of €31 on the company.

The shares rose almost 5% on Wednesday after Smurfit released full-year earnings and a positive outlook despite the prospects for a slowing world economy this year.

Earnings climbed 25% to over €1.54bn in 2018 as revenues rose 4% to €8.95bn.

It said it plans to pay a final dividend of 72.2 cent, up 12% from a year earlier.

Smurfit confirmed it will seek compensation from Venezuela after its government last year seized some of its assets.

In brief comments on the outlook, Smurfit said it was delivering “progressively superior returns”. Broker Davy reiterated its target of €42 for Smurfit shares.

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