Smurfit Kappa hikes its dividend payouts as revenues climb

Packaging giant announces a rise in full-year revenues of 8 per cent to €7.9 billion, but pre-tax profits fall by 8 per cent to €294 million

Ian Curley, the chief financial officer of Smurfit Kappa Group, said it is planning to spend €50 million a year for the next three years on a number of capital projects, aside from acquisitions.

Ian Curley, the chief financial officer of Smurfit Kappa Group, said it is planning to spend €50 million a year for the next three years on a number of capital projects, aside from acquisitions.

 


Ian Curley, the chief financial officer of the packaging giant Smurfit Kappa Group (SKG), said the company plans to continue increasing its dividend payments as its performance improves.

The company yesterday announced a hike in the dividend payout for 2013 of 50 per cent to 30.75 cent.

“The increase puts us back in the pack [among its peers]. It will grow further,” said Mr Curley.

SKG yesterday announced a rise in full-year revenues of 8 per cent to €7.9 billion, as it benefited from a lift in sales in the Americas and a restructured debt profile. Pre-tax profits fell by 8 per cent to €294 million, however.


American growth
“With a weaker though improving year-on-year performance in Europe, the Americas has been a strong source of earnings growth in 2013,” said Gary McGann, the company’s chief executive, in a statement yesterday morning.

SKG said it is planning to spend €50 million a year for the next three years on a number of capital projects, aside from acquisitions.

Mr Curley said these would include energy projects and others designed to achieve “operational efficiencies”.

When asked if operational efficiencies meant job cuts, he replied only that the company would “continue to grow”.


‘Fundamentally different’
The group has paid down about €800 million of debt in recent years, resulting in a cut in its annual interest bill of about €120 million.

Mr Curley said it was now a “fundamentally different business” since the onset of the financial crisis.

“We are looking at several acquisitions and that remains our first port of call. The focus is on mergers and acquisitions, but if nothing comes of that, we will look at other ways of returning cash to shareholders.”

Smurfit Kappa hopes to expand its operations in the high growth regions of the Americas and Eastern Europe through “accretive acquisitions”. Mr Curley identified Brazil as a “hole in the company’s footprint”.