Owens-Illinois (O-I) is involved in more toasts than party-goers on New Year's Eve. The world's largest maker of glass containers, it touts a leading market presence in the regions in which it operates -- North and South America, Europe, and the Asia/Pacific. O-I's glass containers include bottles in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and colors, used to hold beer, wine, liquor, as well as soft drinks, juice, and other beverages. It also makes glass containers for foods, such as soups, salad dressings, and dairy products, and for pharmaceuticals. Major customers include Pepsi, H.J. Heinz, Nestle, and SABMiller. Some 80 plants dot 21 countries; Europe and North America represent about 70% of O-I sales.
O-I enjoyed an 11% spike in total sales from 2010 to 2011 due to increased higher glass container demand and favorable foreign exchange rates. It was especially helped in 2011 by a 25% increase in total sales from South America (primarily in Brazil) and an 11% surge in total sales in Europe. However, O-I suffered two straight years of net losses in 2010 and 2011 as a result of high manufacturing and delivery costs, operating expenses, and its investment in acquisitions.
The company is looking to Brazil to fuel fast growth in the glass container market. In 2012 it acquired the remaining 21% interest in Brasil Industria e Comercio SA (Comercio) for $140 million in cash. The deal gave O-I a 100% ownership in Comercio.
O-I completed its acquisition of Verrerie du Languedoc, a France-based bottle manufacturer, in 2011. Verrerie du Languedoc is best known as the bottle supplier for both Perrier and San Pellegrino sparkling waters (by Nestlé Waters). The deal, which garnered a plant near a Perrier bottler, supported a new strategic tie-up between the world's premium water company and glass maker.
Targeting the Asia/Pacific region, O-I in 2010 purchased the glass container making business of Northern China's Hebei Rixin Glass Group. The deal more than doubled O-I's production capacity in China, propelling it to the #2 spot in the country's glass manufacturing industry.
Simultaneously, O-I is placing a priority on winning over customers that have shied away from glass packaging as well as encouraging existing ones to use more. To this end, its marketing efforts piggyback on the wave toward sustainable packaging. Along with developing a variety of container features and functions, the company highlights the benefits of glass recyclability. – less