Sealed Air (NYSE:SEE) stock will report earnings on Aug. 2 before the opening bell. The Charlotte-based packaging company may not always make the headlines every day, but it performs a function critical to modern life. It provides packaging materials for both food and the shipping of goods. Most Americans know the company for its Bubble Wrap and Cryovac food packaging materials.
While the company’s products add value to consumers, shareholder return has long proved more elusive. The stock broke out of its long-held range in 2014, only to set a new record high the next year and pull back. Rising profit forecasts show some potential for return. Still, traders should assume that current ranges will define SEE stock until proven otherwise.
Expect Flat Earnings, Revenue Numbers
Wall Street forecasts earnings of 64 cents per share. If this number holds, it will represent no change from the same quarter last year. Analysts also expect revenues of $1.17 billion. The company brought in $1.16 in the year-ago quarter.
SEE stock has beaten earnings estimates in each of the previous seven quarters. However, Sealed Air missed on revenues in the last quarter. They blamed this on currency fluctuations. That began a correction phase in the stock throughout May. It has since recovered most of the losses. Still, the current SEE stock price of around $44 per share comes in below the $46.62 per share level it saw before the last earnings report. It has also experienced analyst downgrades and a firing in the C-suite during this time.
Profit Growth May Not Lead to Stock Gains
Amid this turbulence, the company has improved profit growth. Over the previous five years, earnings grew at an average rate of 4.5%. However, profits growth has accelerated. Consequently, analysts now expect earnings to increase by 9.2% this year and 11% in fiscal 2020. This outperforms peers such as International Paper (NYSE:IP), Amcor (NYSE:AMCR) or Owens-Illinois (NYSE:OI). One could make an argument that its forward price-to-earnings ratio should move higher than the current 14.5 with the faster profit increases.
Unfortunately, this improvement has so far done little to improve the SEE stock price. SEE peaked at almost $56 per share in the summer of 2015. Since that time, it has seen a gradual downward slide. It has also not made it above $50 since that time.
Even more worrisome, SEE stock has a long history of range-bound trading. SEE peaked at $35 per share in 1998. It did not move beyond that level until 2014! Unfortunately for bulls, SEE again appears stuck in a range. Long-term holders will receive a little consolation for its rising dividend. Still, at a yield of just under 1.5%, few will buy the equity for these payouts.
Should I Buy SEE Stock Before Earnings?
Given the history of Sealed Air stock, I would not buy this equity going into earnings. I say that not so much because of the quarter. Despite zero profit growth for this particular quarter, overall profit increases look poised to break into the double digits next year.
What traders need is to see if SEE stock breaks its old highs. Twice in 2017, SEE pulled back right as it approached the $50 per share level. If it can then break that level, the next test would come at the $56 per share level. Perhaps the rising yearly profits will finally force the price ceilings to break. However, with the extensive history of trading in a range, investors should treat this as a range-bound stock until it proves itself otherwise.
As of this writing, Will Healy did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned stocks. You can follow Will on Twitter at @HealyWriting.