There was a sell-off in cardboard packaging shares this morning, with shares of Worldwide Paper (IP 0.67%) down 9.4% at 10:30 a.m. ET on Friday, Packaging Company of America (PKG 0.94%) shares down 9.7%, and the inventory of WestRock (WRK 2.04%) down 9.8%.
Shares of FedEx (FDX 1.04%) plunged greater than 22% this morning after the corporate issued an earnings warning predicated on softening world quantity. The amount FedEx referred to was the variety of packages wrapped in cardboard and shipped to prospects. And if that quantity is down, then it is smart that the demand for cardboard all over the world is likely to be falling as nicely.
Funding financial institution Jefferies minimize its scores on every of the three paper shares this morning. Worldwide Paper and Packaging Corp. each suffered precise downgrades to underperform (promote), with value targets set at $31 and $112, respectively. WestRock barely dodged the downgrade bullet, being left at maintain, however its value goal was minimize 7% to $42 per share, in keeping with a report from The Fly this morning. And that is not even the unhealthy information.
In saying its downgrades, Jefferies did not say its resolution was based mostly solely (and even primarily) on FedEx’s earnings warning, however slightly warned that there is a “huge stock glut” in cardboard.
Orders for cardboard packaging are slowing down sharply, the analyst says. Producers like Worldwide Paper, Packaging Corp., and WestRock are more likely to slash costs within the fourth quarter. And since new cardboard manufacturing capability continues to be approaching line, Jefferies expects this case to worsen in 2023.
That is depressing information for the paper firms and for buyers who’re nonetheless anticipating paper earnings to surge this yr. Expectations are for 2022 earnings development of 10% at Worldwide Paper, 18% at WestRock, and 30% at Packaging Corp., in keeping with knowledge from S&P World Market Intelligence, with at worst modest retreats in profitability in 2023.
At current, we do not know precisely how unhealthy the injury would possibly get, solely that Jefferies is anticipating it to get actually unhealthy. However there’s excellent news right here, too.
All three of those shares nonetheless commerce at slightly modest valuations: simply 11 occasions trailing earnings for WestRock, 11.2 occasions for Worldwide Paper, and 12.2 for Packaging Corp. And all three pay very respectable, above-market dividend yields. Worldwide Paper, probably the most recognizable identify of the three, has almost the bottom P/E ratio and by far the best dividend yield at 4.7%.
But when I have been available in the market for a cardboard firm, and concerned about benefiting from in the present day’s sell-off to purchase only one inventory, I believe I would go together with Packaging Company of America. At 12.2 occasions earnings, it is dearer than the others, however its 3.8% dividend yield is greater than beneficiant. And if laborious occasions are coming, Packaging Corp.’s $2 billion web debt load is the smallest and the best to handle, giving it the very best probability of rising from this downturn unscathed.
Wealthy Smith has no place in any of the shares talked about. The Motley Idiot has positions in and recommends FedEx and Jefferies Monetary Group Inc. The Motley Idiot has a disclosure coverage.