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8/9/2018

Plastics Processing: Up There with the Big Boys

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A giant injection molder and extruder plans to spend $500 million buying back its own stock.

My first reaction to the announcement of Berry Global Group’s third-quarter fiscal 2018 results was: Wow. Berry did have a good quarter: net sales up 9% to $2.1 billion, operating income up 2% to $216 million, and so on. But what really caught my eye was the statement that the company’s board unanimously approved a new $500 million share repurchase program.

I know there are some really big plastics processing companies today—Nypro, Amcor, Bemis, to name a few (and the last two just agreed to merge!). But the recognition that a company that does plastics molding and extrusion would spend half a billion dollars just for stock buybacks makes it even more vivid: Plastics processors (they used to be called “fabricators” or “converters”) have hit the big time.

Just how big? In Berry’s case: more than 40 acquisitions since 1988, accumulating more than 130 global locations (headquartered in Evansville, Ind.), and employing over 23,000 employees. Net sales for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2017 were almost $7.1 billion. Not bad for a company from Evansville, Ind. Not bad at all.

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