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Graphic Packaging Holding Company Reports First Quarter 2020 Results; Actively Keeping Employees Safe and Serving Customers in Current COVID-19 Environment; Accelerating Strategic Actions

Press release from the issuing company

Atlanta– Q1 2020 Highlights

  • Net Sales were $1,599.1 million versus $1,505.9 million in the prior year period.
  • Net Income was ($12.7) million versus $57.9 million in the prior year period; loss includes the previously announced net $89.7 million non-cash charge related to the settlement of a U.S. pension plan.
  • Earnings per Diluted Share were ($0.04) versus $0.19 in the prior year period.
  • Adjusted Earnings per Diluted Share were $0.31 versus $0.21 in the prior year period.
  • Adjusted EBITDA was $294.8 million versus $259.7 million in the prior year period, driven by positive net organic volume growth of 5% and solid productivity.
  • Global liquidity was $1,473.9 million at quarter end; issued $450.0 million of 3.5% senior notes on 2/21/2020.
  • Repurchased $119.4 million in common shares during the quarter; delivered $396.1 million to stakeholders in share repurchases, dividends, distributions and partnership redemptions.

Strategic Actions and Announcements

  • Actively keeping employees safe and serving customers as an essential business in the food, beverage and consumer products supply chain; providing $5 million in one-time payments to front-line production employees.
  • Donating a total of $500,000 to local food banks in communities where we operate globally; supporting Company philanthropic pillar of "putting food on the table".
  • Board of Directors has reviewed the current dividend policy and remains committed to the existing return of capital to stakeholders through dividends and distributions.
  • Successfully completed and began integration of a converting facility acquired from Quad/Graphics, Inc. and seven converting facilities acquired from Greif, Inc.
  • Announcing the closure of the 70,000 ton White Pigeon, Michigan Coated Recycled Board (CRB) mill effective June 30, 2020 due to the operational strength of the Company's overall CRB mill network and a CRB supply agreement with Greif, Inc.
  • Announcing the closure of the 120,000 ton West Monroe, Louisiana PM1 containerboard machine effective June 30, 2020 reflecting the Company's long-term confidence in the strength of the Coated Unbleached Kraft (CUK) global beverage packaging platform.
  • Delayed the significant planned maintenance outage at the West Monroe, Louisiana mill from Q2 to Q3 due to increased near-term demand for CUK and contractor work-related implications associated with COVID-19.
  • Suspending annual Adjusted EBITDA and Cash Flow guidance allowing time to assess potential shifts in consumer behavior and spending patterns related to the COVID-19 crisis.

Graphic Packaging Holding Company, (the "Company"), a leading provider of packaging solutions to food, beverage, foodservice, and other consumer products companies, today reported a Net Loss for first quarter 2020 of $12.7 million, or a net loss per share of $0.04, based upon 288.9 million weighted average diluted shares. This compares to first quarter 2019 Net Income of $57.9 million, or $0.19 per share, based upon 298.2 million weighted average diluted shares.

First quarter 2020 Net Income was negatively impacted by a net $103.9 million of special charges including a net $89.7 million non-cash charge related to the settlement of a U.S. pension plan. The charges are detailed in the Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Measures table attached. When adjusting for these charges, Adjusted Net Income for the first quarter of 2020 was $91.2 million, or $0.31 per diluted share. This compares to first quarter 2019 Adjusted Net Income of $61.7 million or $0.21 per diluted share.

"We had a very strong start to 2020 with positive net organic volume growth of 5% and solid productivity driving meaningful improvement to our key financial metrics. To date, we have successfully met the increased and changing needs of our customers, while effectively keeping our employees safe and healthy. I am exceptionally proud of the work our teams around the world are doing to meet the essential packaging needs of our customers and the consumer" said President and CEO Michael Doss. "Importantly, we are also taking decisive actions today to accelerate our strategic agenda to meet the paperboard packaging needs of the consumer, balance supply and demand to optimize cash flow, all while positioning our business to capture profitable growth consistent with the goals we established in our Vision 2025".

Doss added, "I am also pleased that our Board of Directors has reviewed and remains committed to the existing return of capital to stakeholders through dividends and distributions. Separately, we have decided to suspend our annual Adjusted EBITDA and cash flow guidance to allow time to assess potential shifts in consumer behavior and spending patterns related to the COVID-19 crisis. At Graphic Packaging, we are committed to continued leadership as we provide best-in-class quality and service to customers, a safe working environment for our employees, and long-term returns for stakeholders."

Strategic Actions and Announcements

Graphic Packaging Holding Company successfully completed and began integration of a converting facility acquired from Quad/Graphics, Inc. and seven converting facilities acquired from Greif, Inc. These strategic tuck-under acquisitions strengthen the core business and will meaningfully increase the Company's paperboard integration rate over time.

The Company announces today the planned closure of the 70,000 ton White Pigeon, Michigan CRB mill and the 120,000 ton PM1 containerboard machine in West Monroe, Louisiana. Both closures will be effective June 30, 2020. The CRB mill closure at White Pigeon is enabled by the operating strength of the current CRB mill network and a new CRB supply agreement with Greif, Inc. The closure of the non-core PM1 containerboard machine reflects the Company's long-term confidence in the strength of the CUK global beverage packaging platform and the ability to repurpose existing pulp to support growth in CUK.

The Company is also announcing its decision to delay the significant planned maintenance outage at the West Monroe, Louisiana mill from Q2 to Q3 due to increased near-term demand for CUK and contractor work-related implications associated with the COVID-19 crisis.

Operating Results

Net Sales

Net Sales increased 6.2% to $1,599.1 million in the first quarter of 2020, compared to $1,505.9 million in the prior year period. The $93.2 million increase was driven by $14.1 million of higher pricing and $89.0 million of improved volume/mix related to acquisitions and conversions to our paperboard packaging solutions. These benefits were partially offset by $9.9 million of unfavorable foreign exchange.

Attached is supplemental data highlighting Net Tons Sold for the first quarter of 2020 and for each quarter of 2019.

EBITDA

EBITDA for the first quarter of 2020 was $123.6 million, or $129.9 million lower than the first quarter of 2019. After adjusting both periods for business combinations and other special charges, Adjusted EBITDA increased 13.5% to $294.8 million in the first quarter of 2020 from $259.7 million in the first quarter of 2019. When comparing against the prior year quarter, Adjusted EBITDA in the first quarter of 2020 was positively impacted by $14.1 million of higher pricing, $7.6 million of favorable volume/mix, $16.9 million of commodity deflation and $19.2 million of improved net operating performance. These benefits were partially offset by $14.1 million of other inflation (primarily labor and benefits) and $8.6 million of unfavorable foreign exchange.

Other Results

Total Debt (Long-Term, Short-Term and Current Portion) increased $629.1 million during the first quarter of 2020 to $3,501.9 million compared to the fourth quarter of 2019. Total Net Debt (Total Debt, net of Cash and Cash Equivalents) increased $671.8 million during the first quarter of 2020 to $3,391.7 million compared to the fourth quarter of 2019. The Company returned $396.1 million in capital to stakeholders in the first quarter 2020 through share repurchases, dividends, distributions and partnership redemptions. The Company's first quarter 2020 Net Leverage Ratio was 3.18 times Adjusted EBITDA compared to 2.64 times at the end of 2019.

At March 31, 2020, the Company had available liquidity of $1,473.9 million, including the undrawn availability under its global revolving credit facilities. The Company issued $450.0 million of 3.5% senior notes during the quarter.

Net Interest Expense was $33.7 million in the first quarter of 2020, lower when compared to the $35.0 million reported in the first quarter of 2019, primarily reflecting reduced average borrowing rates. Capital expenditures for the first quarter of 2020 were $153.1 million compared to $80.0 million in the first quarter of 2019. First quarter 2020 Income Tax Benefit was $5.4 million, compared to a $21.0 million expense in the first quarter of 2019.

Please note that a tabular reconciliation of EBITDA, Adjusted EBITDA, Adjusted EBITDA margin, Adjusted Net Income, Adjusted EPS, Adjusted Net Cash Provided by Operating Activities, Adjusted Cash Flow and Total Net Debt.

Earnings Call

NOTE: Due to work-related implications associated with the COVID-19 crisis and a low number of operators, wait times for the actual dial in will be longer than normal. Please call at least 20 minutes prior to the start of the conference call or participate via the webcast.

The Company will host a conference call at 10:00 a.m. EST today (April 21, 2020) to discuss the results of first quarter 2020. The conference call will be webcast and can be accessed from the Investors section of the Graphic Packaging website at www.graphicpkg.com. Participants may also listen via telephone by dialing 800-392-9489 from the United States and Canada, and 706-634-2372 from outside the United States and Canada. Telephone participants are required to provide the conference ID 9169414.

Forward Looking Statements

Any statements of the Company's expectations in this press release, including but not limited to the planned continuation of the Company's dividend, the timing of the closure of the White Pigeon, MI mill and the shutdown of the P1 containerboard machine in West Monroe, LA, and the timing of the delay of the West Monroe, LA mill maintenance outage, constitute "forward-looking statements" as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements are based on currently available information and are subject to various risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from the Company's present expectations. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Company's operations and business, inflation of and volatility in raw material and energy costs, continuing pressure for lower cost products, the Company's ability to implement its business strategies, including productivity initiatives, cost reduction plans, and integration activities, as well as the Company's debt level, currency movements and other risks of conducting business internationally, the impact of regulatory and litigation matters, including the continued availability of the Company's net operating loss offset to taxable income. Undue reliance should not be placed on such forward-looking statements, as such statements speak only as of the date on which they are made and the Company undertakes no obligation to update such statements, except as required by law. Additional information regarding these and other risks is contained in the Company's periodic filings with the SEC.

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