Smurfit Kappa profits increase by 31%

Shares in paper and packaging group Smurfit Kappa jumped more than 3% in early trading yesterday on the back of it posting a 31% increase in quarterly profits and forecasting strong earnings growth for the full year.

Smurfit Kappa profits increase by 31%

The Dublin-based business switched its main share listing to London last month while keeping its Dublin presence as a secondary listing.

The move was instigated to expand its investor base and gain access to the Ftse index.

In London, yesterday, Smurfit Kappa’s shares rose over 3% before paring back to close ahead 1.6% at just over £18.50 (€23.40), while in Dublin they were ahead by 2.78% at €23.69.

That movement came on the back of a strong set of first-quarter figures showing a 31% year-on-year rise in pre-tax profit to €128m and a 2% rise in revenue to just over €2bn.

While the figures were down on the preceding quarter, the last three months of 2015, all categories including earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation and operating profit were ahead on a year-on-year basis.

Acquisitions boosted first- quarter performance and chief executive Tony Smurfit said the group’s diversified geographical footprint will continue to provide a platform for earnings growth.

“We continue to see good levels of demand for packaging across almost all of the markets in which we operate,” Mr Smurfit said.

He said the negative currency effect wiped €10m off earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation for the period.

Basic earnings per share were up 26% at 38.8c, but were down 12% on a pre-exceptional basis.

“Assuming broad industry conditions prevail, we expect good earnings growth in 2016,” Mr Smurfit added.

“Management’s statement highlighted that the successful completion of two major upgrades at two European paper plants will incrementally add to volumes in the second quarter.

“Smurfit Kappa Group also pushed through a €40 per tonne price increase in Kraftliner effective from June 16 so we could see volume and pricing gains into the second half, which would help deliver the earnings growth that management discuss,” said Darren McKinley of Merrion Stockbrokers.

“The next significant event for Smurfit Kappa will be the June 1 decision on inclusion to the FTSE 250 index, which is only conditional on liquidity between now and then,” he said.

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