Why Amcor Limited shares could provide steady growth and income for investors

Amcor Limited (ASX: AMC) is a locally-based packaging company operating globally that offers a 4% dividend yield and a stable earnings growth outlook. Much like Domino’s Pizza Enterprises Ltd (ASX: DMP) and Westfield Corp Ltd (ASX: WFD) the company has a significant portion of its business operations overseas.

In fact, as of its most recent financial results, its domestic operations account for just 5% of revenue. Whereas Europe, the United States, and emerging markets contribute approximately 32%, 31%, and 32% of the remaining revenue, respectively.

Its has two business groups Flexibles and Rigid Plastics. Its Flexibles business supplies a range of products to the food, beverage, healthcare and tobacco packaging markets. Its Rigid Plastics business manufactures packaging for consumer products that include beverages, sauces, dressings, spreads, pharmaceuticals, and plastic closures for beverage applications.

The Flexibles segment produced a disappointing 7.1% decline in revenue last year in US dollars. While improvements in its operating margin helped offset a little of this, the result was still disappointing for shareholders. Much of this comes down to the fact that the company has a geographically diverse business and when converting local currencies into US dollars, considering its rapid strengthening, the company loses out.

Rigid Plastics faired better and posted a 3.9% increase in revenue for the year seeing revenue rise from US$3.192 billion to US$3.317 billion. Much like the Flexibles segment, its operating margin improved also, increasing profitability for the segment. As this segment is largely dominated by operations in the United States it is much less sensitive to a stronger US dollar.

Despite the currency headwinds I believe the company can continue to grow its earnings through improved operational efficiencies and acquisitions. The company has set its sights on emerging markets and recently purchased a tobacco packaging company in Brazil, a flexible packaging company in South Africa, and a speciality packaging company in India. Making in-roads into these growing markets should be a great boost to earnings growth in the future.

When the US dollar eventually weakens in the next couple of years or so, I believe Amcor will begin to see earnings accelerate substantially. Until then analysts anticipate earnings to grow from a predicted 78.1 cents per share this year, up to 81.1 cents per share in 2017 and 89.8 cents per share in 2018.

Foolish takeaway

I believe that this steady earnings growth, the company’s 4% dividend yield, its $500 million share buyback program, and the company’s low beta of 0.83 makes Amcor a good pick for a balanced portfolio.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any stocks mentioned. Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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