Ball Corp. sees tax reform lowering effective tax rate on comparable earnings
"Our 2017 free cash flow exceeded $920 million supported by approximately $325 million in year-over-year working capital reductions. The company's EVA discipline and relentless attention on our balance sheet will result in multi-year returns of value to shareholders in 2018 and beyond. Year-end net debt of $6.5 billion was nearly $400 million lower versus last year despite $275 million of higher year-over-year foreign exchange rates on our foreign currency-denominated debt, pension funding of approximately $200 million, and $205 million of combined share repurchases and dividends. In 2018, our free cash flow is estimated to be in the range of $900 million after capital spending of at least $600 million, and our initial estimates are to return approximately $500 million to shareholders in the form of share buybacks and dividends," said Scott Morrison, senior vice president and CFO. "Our company finished the year very strong and we were in line with or above the financial goals we set out for the newly combined business in mid-2016. Aluminum packaging continues to be consumers' package of choice. We are encouraged by the U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act's potential to stimulate the U.S. middle class, which should benefit our end markets, and we estimate the Act will lower our global effective tax rate on comparable earnings from approximately 25 percent in 2017 to approximately 23 percent in 2018. As we look forward, our synergy capture plans remain on track and we expect to make continued progress in 2018 as we drive toward our 2019 goals of $2 billion of comparable EBITDA and in excess of $1 billion of free cash flow," Hayes said.