ATLANTA (From news reports) -- Graphic Packaging Holding said it will spend $1 billion to build a new mill to turn old cardboard into new boxboard, doubling down on its bet that concerns about plastic waste have created opportunities for paper packaging.
The paperboard mill in Waco, Texas will follow the opening early last year of a similar plant in Kalamazoo, Mich., which was the first new coated-recycled paperboard line to be built in the U.S. in decades. Construction is expected to begin later this quarter and start-up is slated for late 2025.
Prices for containerboard, used to make corrugated shipping boxes, have dropped from their highs during the pandemic e-commerce boom. But prices for paperboard, which is used for beer and cereal boxes, have held up.
Graphic's plans for the new mill were announced with fourth-quarter earnings that were inline with analysts' expectations. Shares dropped, though, as they did in 2019 when Graphic announced it would spend $600 million on the Kalamazoo mill.
For Q4, the Atlanta-based packaging solutions company's $0.59 in earnings per share beat the Street expectation by one cent while a 20.1% jump in revenue from the prior year exceeded estimates by $70M. Management indicated that the results came in above expectations despite a $20M impact related to a late December storm.
"Our continued innovation in fiber-based consumer packaging solutions drove a third consecutive year of net organic sales growth at or above the high-end of our targeted range," CEO Michael Doss said. "Our large acquisition in Europe has been integrated and is providing growth opportunities in new consumer markets while meeting our financial and synergy expectations."
He added that the company intends to invest $1B over three years toward coated recycled paperboard production.
"Investments such as the CRB machine in Kalamazoo and other strategic initiatives are delivering real returns for shareholders and high-quality packaging for consumers," Doss said. "Our plans to build a new CRB mill in Waco, Texas and optimize our paperboard network over the next three years will extend our position as the lowest-cost, highest-quality paperboard producer in North America and enhance our ability to meet growing global demand for fiber-based consumer packaging."