Sealed Air (NYSE:SEE) is never going to be pegged as a high-growth name. The current SEE stock price, near $44, although well up from December’s low, is also well below the mid-2015 high near $56. The long-term downtrend is intact to be sure.
Sealed Air stock has done what most other stocks have been unable to do over the course of the past couple of trading days though. That is, overcome a market-wide bearish tide in response to last quarter’s results.
One or two good days doesn’t make a trend. But, all trends start out with one or two good days. If nothing else, the strength SEE stock has demonstrated of late, and the technical context behind it, suggests this name could be a good place to shield yourself from the latest wave of global economic turbulence.
SEE Stock Price Soars on Earnings
A new batch of tariffs on Chinese-made goods got the blame, and undoubtedly the added costs they’ll impose on consumers and corporations will further stymie the economy. The broad market was due for a setback anyway, up 27% from December’s low. Traders were just waiting for the right catalyst, already dragging the market lower before the announcement was made.
SEE stock wasn’t immune to that weakness either, peeling back from technical resistance early last week in front of Friday morning’s second quarter report.
Right on cue, a healthy Q2 print spurred a 7.7% bounce on Friday to test another recently-developed technical ceiling. Earnings of 80 cents per share of Sealed Air stock versus expectations of only 64 cents incited immediate buying, bolstered by an improved outlook. Full-year earnings guidance of between $2.65 and $2.75 was lifted to a range of between $2.70 and 2.80 per share. Sealed Air stock was down modestly on Monday, though the SEE stock price remains within reach of another breakout thrust that could pull it out of a multi-week lull.
The persistent strength is a breath of fresh air, though suspicious given the backdrop. There’s a double-barreled logic to the bullishness that suggests Sealed Air is a top name to own here and now.
Two Reasons Sealed Air is Immune
Sealed Air makes packaging solutions, ranging from bubble wrap to fresh meat trays to IV bags. It competes directly and indirectly with the likes of Packaging Corp of America (NYSE:PKG) and Ball Corporation (NYSE:BLL), and while it’s not a terribly crowded arena, it’s a slow-growth business. Not counting its impending acquisition of Automated Packaging Systems, This year’s top line is expected to only grow around 2%. Next year’s projected revenue growth is on the order of 4%.
SEE is a business that could prove something of a safe-haven in the coming months for a couple of key reasons.
One of those reasons is the stability of the packaging business itself.
The tariff war to date has primarily targeted technology, materials and foods. Sealed Air has a hand in some affected industries, but doesn’t rely heavily on them. And, to the extent it does count on certain business focuses remaining robust, its role as a packager is largely unaffected by price changes for what’s inside the package. It would take an outright recession to meaningfully impact Sealed Air’s business.
Second, it’s not terribly reliant on China and other Asian countries for revenue. North America alone made up just under 60% of last quarter’s total business, while its Asia and Pacific arm only made up less than 15% of its revenue in Q2. Automated Packaging Systems derives three-fourths of its revenue from North American customers, which will keep it primarily a domestic business.
A more self-sufficient business environment with the United States actually plays into the hand Sealed Air is holding.
What Next for Sealed Air Stock?
Click to EnlargeThe unusual bullish argument may hold water in light of the unusual market circumstances, though that means little until and unless traders have good reason to expect more upside. And so far, they don’t.
That could change rather readily.
In the very near term, the line in the sand is around $44.50, where SEE stock peaked in July as well as on Friday and Monday. A break above that level could be seen as more convincing proof of a breakout move, and inspire some new bulls that are still on the sidelines.
Click to EnlargeBeyond that, the technical ceiling that has been guiding Sealed Air shares lower since 2015 has yet to be breached. It’s at $46 right now. If the SEE stock price can punch through that resistance, look for investors and the financial media to start throwing around the rhetoric that sounds a whole lot like the bullish thesis just now laid out.
In the absence of that technical progress, Sealed Air stock remains mostly a question mark despite its underappreciated resilience.
As of this writing, James Brumley did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities. You can learn more about James at his site, jamesbrumley.com, or follow him on Twitter, at @jbrumley.