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WestRock (WRK) Q4 Earnings & Sales Beat Estimates, Up Y/Y

WestRock's (WRK) Q4 results reflect benefits from strong demand for its products and upbeat performances at its segments.

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This story originally appeared on Zacks

WestRock Company WRK reported fourth-quarter fiscal 2021 (ended Sep 30, 2021) adjusted earnings of $1.23 per share, reflecting year-over-year growth of 68%. The bottom line beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1.14. This upside was driven by higher selling price/mix and improved volumes that helped negate the impact of inflated costs.

Including one-time items, earnings were $1.20 per share against a loss of $4.45 reported in the prior-year quarter.

- Zacks

Operational Update

WestRock’s total revenues advanced 14% year over year to a record $5.1 billion. The top line surpassed the consensus mark of $4.9 billion.

WestRock Company Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise

WestRock Company Price, Consensus and EPS Surprise

WestRock Company price-consensus-eps-surprise-chart | WestRock Company Quote

Cost of sales was up 12 % year on year to $4,093 million in the fiscal fourth quarter. Gross profit increased 23% year over year to $980 million. Adjusted segment EBITDA was $878 million compared with the $721 million in the year-earlier quarter. Total segment income was $526 million, up from the year-ago quarter’s $373 million.

Segmental Performance

Corrugated Packaging: Sales in the segment were up 17% year over year to $3,399 million during the quarter under review primarily on higher selling price/mix, higher volumes and favorable foreign-currency impacts. Adjusted segment EBITDA increased 18% year over year to $606 million as the impact of higher selling price/mix and higher volumes helped offset cost inflation and other items.

Consumer Packaging: Sales in the segment grew 10% year on year to $1,783 million. The upsurge can be attributed to higher selling price/mix, improved volumes and favorable impacts of foreign currency translation. Adjusted segment EBITDA climbed 28% year over year to $284 million. Gains from higher selling price/mix, productivity improvements, lower economic downtime compared to the prior-year period and higher volumes were partially offset by net cost inflation and other items.

Fiscal 2021 Results

WestRock reported fiscal 2021 adjusted earnings of $3.39 per share, which marked a 23% improvement from earnings of $2.75 per share in the prior fiscal. The bottom line figure beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3.29. Including one-time items, earnings were $3.13 per share compared against a loss of $2.67 reported in the fiscal 2020. Total revenues improved 7% year over year to a record $18.7 billion and surpassed the consensus mark of $18.6 billion.

Financial Position

WestRock had cash and cash equivalents of $291 million as of Sep 30, 2021, up from $251 million reported as of Sep 30, 2020. The company reported total debt of $8.2 billion as of fiscal 2021-end, down from $9.43 billion as of the end of fiscal 2020.

Net cash provided by operating activities in fiscal 2021 was $2.28 billion compared with the $2.07 billion recorded in the prior year. During the fiscal fourth quarter, WestRock invested $310 million in capital expenditures, spent $122 million on share repurchases and paid out $64 million in dividends to shareholders.

Price Performance

Zacks Investment ResearchImage Source: Zacks Investment Research

Shares of WestRock have appreciated 17.7% over the past year, compared with the industry’s growth of 19.9%.

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

WestRock currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Some better-ranked stocks in the basic materials space include Commercial Metals Company CMC, Nucor Corporation NUE and Huntsman Corporation HUN. All of these stocks currently flaunt a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Commercial Metals has an expected earnings growth rate of 3.7% for the current year. The company’s shares have gained 69% in the past year.

Nucor has a projected earnings growth rate of 585% for the current year. The company’s shares have soared 124% in a year’s time.

Huntsman has an expected earnings growth rate of 254% for the current fiscal year. The company’s shares have surged 36% in the past year.



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