Get To Know Your Stock: Ball Corporation

Ball Corp is a leading manufacturer of metal packaging, primarily for the food and beverage industries. The company was founded in 1880 by five brothers: Edmund, Frank, George, Lucius, and William Ball, in Buffalo, New York. The Ball brothers originally manufactured wooden-jacketed tin cans for the food industry; when the brothers replaced the tin insert with glass, the famous and familiar Ball canning jar was born. Ball no longer makes those jars; it sold the rights to the name and product to Jarden Corp.

In 1887, the Ball brothers moved their business to Muncie, Indiana, where they built a new factory and continued to expand their product line. Introducing new products such as tin plates and improved canning machinery diversified Ball’s product line.

A drop in demand for canning jars during the Depression and for some years after prompted Ball’s entry into aerospace and technology. The precipitating issue arose in the 1940s, when Ball became the target of an anti-trust suit. When the outcome was a decision against Ball, the company responded by establishing a home-grown aerospace lab in Boulder, Colorado. Its primary business was satellite design and development. With uneven success in aerospace, the company aimed again to expand in its packaging division, where its prowess was well established. Thus, in 1969, it purchased Jeffco Manufacturing Company which made recycled tin beverage cans.

In the 1990s, Ball Corp underwent a major restructuring, divesting many of its non-packaging businesses and focusing on its core metal packaging operations. The company also acquired several other packaging companies to strengthen its position in the industry. Today, Ball Corp has operations in over 30 countries and more than 21,000 employees worldwide. The company’s products can be found in a wide range of industries, including food and beverage, household products, and industrial packaging.

Ball Corp has set ambitious goals to reduce its carbon footprint and water usage and has invested in renewable energy and recycling initiatives. The company was named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index in 2022. Its products are enabling achievement of environmental goals held by other entities, too. Some 65% of aluminum is recycled, versus just 5% of plastic. Ball recently received an Edison Award for a lightweight infinitely recyclable aluminum cup that can be used in hotels, stadiums, restaurants, and at many other venues.

Our opportunity to purchase the stock arrived during a downturn earlier this year. Our time frame for holding this one is very long; we are hoping it will be a profitable investment for many years to come.

As of February 2023

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