Company Quick10K Filing
WestRock
Closing Price ($) Shares Out (MM) Market Cap ($MM)
$0.00 261 $15,107
10-K 2019-11-18 Annual: 2019-09-30
10-Q 2019-08-02 Quarter: 2019-06-30
10-Q 2019-05-03 Quarter: 2019-03-31
10-Q 2019-02-08 Quarter: 2018-12-31
10-Q 2018-08-03 Quarter: 2018-06-30
10-Q 2018-05-03 Quarter: 2018-03-31
10-Q 2018-02-07 Quarter: 2017-12-31
10-K 2017-11-20 Annual: 2017-09-30
10-Q 2017-08-09 Quarter: 2017-06-30
10-Q 2017-05-09 Quarter: 2017-03-31
10-Q 2017-02-07 Quarter: 2016-12-31
10-K 2016-11-25 Annual: 2016-09-30
10-Q 2016-08-09 Quarter: 2016-06-30
10-Q 2016-05-10 Quarter: 2016-03-31
10-Q 2016-02-09 Quarter: 2015-12-31
10-K 2015-11-27 Annual: 2015-09-30
10-Q 2015-08-10 Quarter: 2015-06-30
8-K 2019-11-21 Enter Agreement, Off-BS Arrangement, Exhibits
8-K 2019-11-07 Earnings, Regulation FD, Exhibits
8-K 2019-09-27 Enter Agreement, Off-BS Arrangement, Exhibits
8-K 2019-09-19 Regulation FD, Exhibits
8-K 2019-08-01 Earnings, Regulation FD, Exhibits
8-K 2019-07-02 Regulation FD, Exhibits
8-K 2019-06-05 Regulation FD, Exhibits
8-K 2019-05-16 Enter Agreement, Off-BS Arrangement, Other Events, Exhibits
8-K 2019-05-09 Other Events
8-K 2019-05-03 Other Events, Exhibits
8-K 2019-04-30 Earnings, Regulation FD, Exhibits
8-K 2019-04-05 Officers, Exhibits
8-K 2019-03-26 Officers
8-K 2019-02-28 Regulation FD, Exhibits
8-K 2019-02-19 Officers, Regulation FD, Exhibits
8-K 2019-02-11 Other Events, Exhibits
8-K 2019-02-01 Shareholder Vote
8-K 2019-01-31 Earnings, Regulation FD, Exhibits
8-K 2019-01-16 Other Events
8-K 2018-11-02 Other Events, Exhibits
8-K 2018-11-02 Enter Agreement, M&A, Off-BS Arrangement, Shareholder Rights, Control, Officers, Amend Bylaw, Exhibits
8-K 2018-10-30 Other Events, Exhibits
8-K 2018-09-27 Regulation FD, Exhibits
8-K 2018-09-17 Regulation FD
8-K 2018-08-13 Regulation FD, Exhibits
8-K 2018-08-07 Other Events
8-K 2018-08-02 Earnings, Regulation FD, Exhibits
8-K 2018-07-26 Officers, Regulation FD, Exhibits
8-K 2018-06-14 Regulation FD, Exhibits
8-K 2018-05-07 Regulation FD, Exhibits
8-K 2018-04-27 Earnings, Regulation FD, Exhibits
8-K 2018-04-27 Enter Agreement, Leave Agreement, Off-BS Arrangement, Exhibits
8-K 2018-04-13 Other Events
8-K 2018-03-07 Enter Agreement, Off-BS Arrangement, Exhibits
8-K 2018-03-06 Enter Agreement, Off-BS Arrangement, Exhibits
8-K 2018-03-01 Other Events, Exhibits
8-K 2018-02-13 Regulation FD, Exhibits
8-K 2018-02-02 Shareholder Vote
8-K 2018-01-29 Earnings, Exhibits
8-K 2018-01-28 Enter Agreement, Other Events, Exhibits
WRK 2019-09-30
Part I
Item 1. Business
Item 1A. Risk Factors
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 2. Properties
Item 3. Legal Proceedings
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
Part Ii: Financial Information
Item 5. Market for The Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Item 6. Selected Financial Data
Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk
Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data
Note 1. Description of Business and Summary of Significant Accounting Policies
Note 2. Revenue Recognition
Note 3. Acquisitions and Investment
Note 4. Restructuring and Other Costs
Note 5. Retirement Plans
Note 6. Income Taxes
Note 7. Segment Information
Note 8. Inventories
Note 9. Assets Held for Sale
Note 10. Property, Plant and Equipment
Note 11. Other Intangible Assets
Note 12. Fair Value
Note 13. Debt
Note 14. Selected Condensed Consolidating Financial Statements of Parent, Issuer, Guarantors and Non-Guarantors
Note 15. Operating Leases
Note 16. Special Purpose Entities
Note 17. Related Party Transactions
Note 18. Commitments and Contingencies
Note 19. Accumulated Other Comprehensive Loss and Other Comprehensive Income
Note 20. Stockholders' Equity
Note 21. Share-Based Compensation
Note 22. Earnings per Share
Note 23. Financial Results By Quarter (Unaudited)
Item 9.Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure
Item 9A. Controls and Procedures
Item 9B. Other Information
Part III
Item 10. Directors, Executive Officers, and Corporate Governance
Item 11. Executive Compensation
Item 12. Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters
Item 13. Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence
Item 14. Principal Accounting Fees and Services
Part IV
Item 15. Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules
Item 16. Form 10-K Summary
EX-4.9 wrk-ex49_33.htm
EX-10.27(B) wrk-ex1027b_267.htm
EX-10.34(E) wrk-ex1034e_120.htm
EX-21 wrk-ex21_7.htm
EX-23 wrk-ex23_10.htm
EX-31.1 wrk-ex311_11.htm
EX-31.2 wrk-ex312_6.htm
EX-32.1 wrk-ex321_9.htm

WestRock Earnings 2019-09-30

WRK 10K Annual Report

Balance SheetIncome StatementCash Flow

Comparables ($MM TTM)
Ticker M Cap Assets Liab Rev G Profit Net Inc EBITDA EV G Margin EV/EBITDA ROA
BLL 23,306 17,109 13,545 11,551 431 522 1,353 29,414 4% 21.7 3%
WRK 15,107 25,136 13,742 16,109 778 1,827 3,418 20,597 5% 6.0 7%
AVY 9,619 5,390 4,327 7,064 1,878 243 228 10,875 27% 47.7 5%
PKG 8,670 7,074 4,153 7,050 1,718 792 1,519 10,586 24% 7.0 11%
CCK 8,021 15,565 14,271 11,698 390 551 1,211 16,340 3% 13.5 4%
SON 6,644 4,946 3,105 5,432 1,059 306 676 7,736 20% 11.4 6%
BMS 4,998 3,648 2,400 4,064 809 238 545 6,336 20% 11.6 7%
GPK 4,072 7,285 5,700 6,096 1,042 350 996 7,005 17% 7.0 5%
SLGN 3,307 5,111 4,498 706 201 540 5,907 16% 10.9 4%
OI 2,701 10,723 6,763 1,252 271 1,063 8,595 19% 8.1 3%

wrk-10k_20190930.htm
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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549

 

FORM 10-K

 

(Mark One)

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended September 30, 2019

OR

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from              to             

Commission file number 001-38736

 

WESTROCK COMPANY

(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in Its Charter)

 

Delaware

 

37-1880617

(State or Other Jurisdiction of

Incorporation or Organization)

 

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification No.)

1000 Abernathy Road NE, Atlanta, Georgia

 

30328

(Address of Principal Executive Offices)

 

(Zip Code)

 

Registrant’s Telephone Number, Including Area Code: (770) 448-2193

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

Title of each class

Trading Symbol(s)

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common Stock, par value $0.01 per share

WRK

New York Stock Exchange

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes      No 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes ☐   No 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes    No 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).   Yes     No 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Act.

 

Large accelerated filer

 

Accelerated filer

Non-accelerated filer

 

Smaller reporting company

Emerging growth company

 

 

 

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).     Yes       No  

The aggregate market value of the common equity held by non-affiliates of the registrant as of March 31, 2019 (based on the closing price per share as reported on the New York Stock Exchange on such date), was approximately $9,706 million.

As of November 4, 2019, the registrant had 257,894,507 shares of Common Stock, par value $0.01 per share, outstanding.

 

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Portions of the definitive Proxy Statement for the Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be held on January 31, 2020 are incorporated by reference in Part III.

 

 


 

WESTROCK COMPANY

INDEX TO FORM 10-K

 

 

 

Page

Reference

 

PART I

 

Item 1.

Business

3

 

 

 

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

17

 

 

 

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

27

 

 

 

Item 2.

Properties

27

 

 

 

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

29

 

 

 

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

29

 

 

 

 

PART II

 

 

 

 

Item 5.

Market for the Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

30

 

 

 

Item 6.

Selected Financial Data

30

 

 

 

Item 7.

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

33

 

 

 

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

50

 

 

 

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

54

 

 

 

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

147

 

 

 

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

147

 

 

 

Item 9B.

Other Information

148

 

 

 

 

PART III

 

 

 

 

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

149

 

 

 

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

150

 

 

 

Item 12.

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

150

 

 

 

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

150

 

 

 

Item 14.

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

150

 

 

 

 

PART IV

 

 

 

 

Item 15.

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

151

 

 

 

Item 16.

Form 10-K Summary

151

 

2


 

PART I

Item 1.

BUSINESS

Unless the context otherwise requires, we, us, our, WestRock and “the Company refer to the business of WestRock Company, its wholly-owned subsidiaries and its partially-owned consolidated subsidiaries for periods on or after November 2, 2018 and to WRKCo Inc. (formerly known as WestRock Company, “WRKCo”) for periods prior to November 2, 2018.

General

WestRock is a multinational provider of paper and packaging solutions for consumer and corrugated packaging markets. We partner with our customers to provide differentiated paper and packaging solutions that help them win in the marketplace. Our team members support customers around the world from our operating and business locations in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

WestRock was formed on March 6, 2015 for the purpose of effecting the Combination (as defined below). Pursuant to the second amended and restated business combination agreement, dated April 17, 2015 and amended as of May 5, 2015 by and among WestRock, WestRock RKT Company (formerly known as Rock-Tenn Company, and a wholly-owned subsidiary of WestRock) (“RockTenn”), WestRock MWV, LLC (formerly known as MeadWestvaco Corporation, and a wholly-owned subsidiary of WestRock) (“MWV”), Rome Merger Sub, Inc. and Milan Merger Sub, LLC (the “Business Combination Agreement”), on July 1, 2015, (i) Rome Merger Sub, Inc. merged with and into RockTenn, with RockTenn surviving the merger as a wholly-owned subsidiary of WestRock, and (ii) Milan Merger Sub, LLC merged with and into MWV, with MWV surviving the merger as a wholly owned subsidiary of WestRock (the “Combination”). Prior to the Combination, WestRock did not conduct any activities other than those incidental to its formation and the matters contemplated by the Business Combination Agreement. On July 1, 2015, pursuant to the Business Combination Agreement, RockTenn and MWV completed a strategic combination of their respective businesses and RockTenn and MWV each became wholly-owned subsidiaries of WestRock. RockTenn was the accounting acquirer in the Combination.

 

On May 15, 2016, WestRock completed the distribution of the outstanding common stock, par value $0.01 per share, of Ingevity Corporation, formerly the Specialty Chemicals business of WestRock to WestRock’s stockholders (the “Separation”). As a result of the Separation, we disposed of our former Specialty Chemicals segment in its entirety and ceased to consolidate its assets, liabilities and results of operations in our consolidated financial statements. Accordingly, we presented the financial position and results of operations of our former Specialty Chemicals segment as discontinued operations.

On April 6, 2017, we completed the sale (the “HH&B Sale”) of our Home, Health and Beauty business, a former division of our Consumer Packaging segment (“HH&B”). We used the proceeds from the HH&B Sale in connection with the MPS Acquisition (as defined below). We recorded a pre-tax gain on sale of HH&B of $192.8 million in fiscal 2017. See “Note 1. Description of Business and Summary of Significant Accounting Policies — Description of Business” of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements for additional information.

On June 6, 2017, we completed the acquisition (the “MPS Acquisition”) of Multi Packaging Solutions International Limited, a Bermuda exempted company (“MPS”). MPS is reported in our Consumer Packaging segment. See “Note 3. Acquisitions and Investment” of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements for additional information.

On November 2, 2018, pursuant to the Agreement and Plan of Merger (the “Merger Agreement”), dated as of January 28, 2018, among WRKCo, KapStone Paper and Packaging Corporation (“KapStone”), WestRock Company (formerly known as Whiskey Holdco, Inc.), Whiskey Merger Sub, Inc. and Kola Merger Sub, Inc., the Company acquired all of the outstanding shares of KapStone through a transaction in which: (i) Whiskey Merger Sub, Inc. merged with and into WRKCo, with WRKCo surviving the merger as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Company and (ii) Kola Merger Sub, Inc. merged with and into KapStone, with KapStone surviving the merger as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Company (together, the “KapStone Acquisition”). As a result, among other things, the Company became the ultimate parent of WRKCo, KapStone and their respective subsidiaries, and the Company changed its name to “WestRock Company” and WRKCo changed its name to “WRKCo Inc.”. WRKCo was the accounting acquirer in the transaction; therefore, the historical consolidated financial statements of WRKCo for periods prior to the KapStone Acquisition are also considered to be the historical financial statements of the

3


 

Company. The Company is the successor issuer to both WRKCo and KapStone pursuant to Rule 12g-3(c) under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”). See Note 3. Acquisitions and Investment of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements for more information.

 

Effective in the first quarter of fiscal 2019, we aligned our financial results for all periods presented to move our merchandising displays operations from our Consumer Packaging segment to our Corrugated Packaging segment and to allocate certain previously non-allocated costs and certain pension and other postretirement non-service income (expense) to our reportable segments. Separately, in the first quarter of fiscal 2019, we began conducting our recycling operations primarily as a procurement function. Since then, recycling net sales have not been recorded and the margin from these operations has reduced cost of goods sold. Following the realignment, we report our financial results of operations in the following three reportable segments: Corrugated Packaging, which consists of our containerboard mills, corrugated packaging and distribution operations, as well as our merchandising displays and recycling procurement operations; Consumer Packaging, which consists of our consumer mills, food and beverage and partition operations; and Land and Development, which sells real estate, primarily in the Charleston, SC region. Prior to the HH&B Sale, our Consumer Packaging segment included HH&B.

Products

Corrugated Packaging Segment

We are one of the largest integrated producers of linerboard and corrugating medium (“containerboard”), corrugated products and specialty papers (including kraft papers and saturating kraft) in North America measured by tons produced, one of the largest producers of high-graphics preprinted linerboard measured by net sales in North America and one of the largest manufacturers of temporary promotional point-of-purchase displays in North America measured by net sales. We have integrated corrugated operations in North America, Brazil and India. We believe we are one of the largest paper recyclers in North America and our recycling operations provide substantially all of the recycled fiber to our mills, as well as to third parties. Our Brazil operations own and operate forestlands that provide virgin fiber to our Brazilian mill.

We operate an integrated corrugated packaging system that manufactures primarily containerboard, corrugated sheets, corrugated packaging and preprinted linerboard for sale to consumer and industrial products manufacturers and corrugated box manufacturers. We produce a full range of high-quality corrugated containers designed to protect, ship, store, promote and display products made to our customers’ merchandising and distribution specifications. We convert corrugated sheets into corrugated products ranging from one-color protective cartons to graphically brilliant point-of-purchase packaging. Our corrugated container plants serve local customers and regional and large national accounts. Corrugated packaging is used to provide protective packaging for shipment and distribution of food, paper, health and beauty, and other household, consumer, commercial and industrial products. Corrugated packaging may also be graphically enhanced for retail sale, particularly in club store locations. We provide customers with innovative packaging solutions to promote and sell their products. We provide structural and graphic design, engineering services and custom, proprietary and standard automated packaging machines, offering customers turn-key installation, automation, line integration and packaging solutions. We have a machinery solution that creates pouches that replace single-use plastics, including bubble mailers. We also distribute corrugated packaging materials and other specialty packaging products, which include stretch film, void fill, carton sealing tape and other specialty tapes through our network of warehouses and distribution facilities. To make corrugated sheet stock, we feed linerboard and corrugating medium into a corrugator that flutes the medium to specified sizes, glues the linerboard and fluted medium together, and slits and cuts the resulting corrugated paperboard into sheets to customer specifications. Our containerboard mills and corrugated container operations are integrated with the majority of our containerboard production used internally by our corrugated container operations. The balance is either used in trade swaps with other manufacturers or sold domestically and internationally.

We design, manufacture and, in certain cases, pack temporary displays for sale to consumer products companies and retailers. These displays are used as marketing tools to support new product introductions and specific product promotions in mass merchandising stores, supermarkets, convenience stores, home improvement stores and other retail locations. We also design, manufacture and, in some cases, pre-assemble permanent displays for these customers. We make temporary displays primarily from corrugated paperboard. Unlike temporary displays, permanent displays are restocked with our customers’ product; therefore, they are constructed primarily from metal, plastic, wood and other durable materials. We provide contract packing services, such as multi-product promotional packing and product manipulation, such as multipacks and onpacks. We manufacture and distribute

4


 

point of sale material utilizing litho, screen and digital printing technologies. We manufacture lithographic laminated packaging for sale to our customers that require packaging with high quality graphics and strength characteristics.

Our recycling operations primarily procure recovered paper (also known as recycled fiber) from our converting facilities and from third parties, such as factories, warehouses, commercial printers, office complexes, grocery and retail stores, document storage facilities, paper converters and other wastepaper collectors. We handle a wide variety of grades of recovered paper, including old corrugated containers, office paper, box clippings, newspaper and print shop scraps. We operate recycling facilities that collect, sort, grade and bale recovered paper and, after sorting and baling, we transfer it to our mills for processing or sell it principally to manufacturers of paperboard or containerboard in the United States (“U.S.”), as well as manufacturers of tissue, newsprint, roofing products and insulation, and to export markets. We operate a nationwide fiber marketing and brokerage system that serves large regional and national accounts, as well as our recycled containerboard and paperboard mills, and sells scrap materials from our converting businesses and mills. Many of our recycling facilities are located close to our recycled containerboard and paperboard mills, which helps promote the availability of supply with reduced shipping costs. In the first quarter of fiscal 2019, we began conducting our recycling operations primarily as a procurement function, shifting its focus to the procurement of low cost, high quality fiber for our mill system. As a result, we no longer record recycling net sales and the margin from these operations has reduced cost of goods sold.

Sales of corrugated packaging products to external customers accounted for 64.2%, 59.0% and 60.6% of our net sales in fiscal 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively. See “Note 7. Segment Information” of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements, as well as Item 7. “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations”, for additional information.

Consumer Packaging Segment

We operate integrated virgin and recycled fiber paperboard mills and consumer packaging converting operations, which convert items such as folding and beverage cartons, interior partitions, inserts and labels. Our integrated system of virgin and recycled mills produces paperboard for our converting operations and third parties. We internally consume or sell to manufacturers of folding cartons and other paperboard products our coated natural kraft, bleached paperboard and coated recycled paperboard, and internally consume or sell to manufacturers of solid fiber interior packaging, tubes and cores, book covers and other paperboard products our specialty recycled paperboard. The mill owned by our Seven Hills Paperboard LLC (“Seven Hills”) joint venture in Lynchburg, VA manufactures gypsum paperboard liner for sale to our joint venture partner.

We are one of the largest manufacturers of folding and beverage cartons in North America. We believe we are the largest manufacturer of solid fiber partitions in North America measured by net sales. Our folding and beverage cartons are used to package items such as food, paper, beverages, dairy products, tobacco, confectionery, health and beauty and other household consumer, commercial and industrial products, primarily for retail sale. Our folding and beverage cartons are also used by our customers to attract consumer attention at the point-of-sale. We manufacture express mail packages for the overnight courier industry, provide inserts and labels, as well as rigid packaging and other printed packaging products, such as transaction cards (e.g., credit, debit, etc.), brochures, product literature, marketing materials (such as booklets, folders, inserts, cover sheets and slipcases) and grower tags and plant stakes for the horticultural market. For the global healthcare market, we manufacture secondary packages designed to enhance patient adherence for prescription drugs, as well as paperboard packaging for over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Our customers generally use our inserts and labels to provide customer product information either inside a secondary package (e.g., a folding carton) or affixed to the outside of a primary package (e.g., a bottle). Folding cartons typically protect customers’ products during shipment and distribution, and employ graphics to promote them at retail. We manufacture folding and beverage cartons from recycled and virgin paperboard, laminated paperboard and various substrates with specialty characteristics, such as grease masking and microwaveability. We print, coat, die-cut and glue the cartons to customer specifications and ship finished cartons to customers for assembling, filling and sealing. We employ a broad range of offset, flexographic, gravure, backside printing, coating and finishing technologies, as well as iridescent, holographic, textured and dimensional effects to provide differentiated packaging products, and support our customers with new package development, innovation and design services and package testing services. We manufacture and sell our solid fiber and corrugated partitions and die-cut paperboard components principally to glass container manufacturers and producers of beer, food, wine, spirits, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, and to the automotive industry.

Sales of consumer packaging products to external customers accounted for 35.7%, 40.1% and 37.8% of our net sales in fiscal 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively. See “Note 7. Segment Information” of the Notes to Consolidated

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Financial Statements, as well as Item 7. “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations”, for additional information.

Land and Development Segment

We seek to maximize the value of the various real estate holdings we own that are concentrated in the Charleston, SC region. We expect to complete the monetization of these holdings during fiscal 2020. Sales in our Land and Development segment to external customers accounted for 0.1%, 0.9% and 1.6% of our net sales in fiscal 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively. See “Note 7. Segment Information” and “Note 9. Assets Held For Sale” of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements, as well as Item 7. “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations”, for additional information.

Raw Materials

The primary raw materials used by our mill operations are recycled fiber at our recycled containerboard and paperboard mills and virgin fiber from hardwoods and softwoods at our virgin containerboard and paperboard mills. Certain of our virgin containerboard is manufactured with some recycled fiber content. Recycled fiber prices and virgin fiber prices can fluctuate significantly. While virgin fiber prices have generally been more stable than recycled fiber prices, they also fluctuate, particularly due to significant changes in weather, such as during prolonged periods of heavy rain or drought, or during housing construction slowdowns or accelerations.

Containerboard and paperboard are the primary raw materials used by our converting operations. Our converting operations use many different grades of containerboard and paperboard. We supply substantially all of our converting operations' needs for containerboard and paperboard from our own mills and through the use of trade swaps with other manufacturers. These arrangements allow us to optimize our mill system and reduce freight costs. Because there are other suppliers that produce the necessary grades of containerboard and paperboard used in our converting operations, we believe we would be able to source significant replacement quantities from other suppliers in the event that we incur production disruptions for recycled or virgin containerboard and paperboard. See Item 1A. Risk Factors — We May Face Increased Costs For, or Inadequate Availability of, Raw Materials, Energy and Transportation.

Energy

Energy is one of the most significant costs of our mill operations. The cost of natural gas, coal, oil, electricity and wood by-products (biomass) at times has fluctuated significantly. In our recycled paperboard mills, we use primarily natural gas and electricity, supplemented with coal and fuel oil to generate steam used in the paper making process and, at a few mills, to generate electricity used on site. In our virgin fiber mills, we use natural gas, biomass and coal to generate steam used in the pulping and paper making processes and to generate some or all of the electricity used on site. We primarily use electricity and natural gas to operate our converting facilities. We generally purchase these products from suppliers at market or tariff rates. See Item 1. Business — Governmental Regulation — Environmental and Other Matters for additional information. See also Item 1A. Risk Factors — We May Face Increased Costs For, or Inadequate Availability of, Raw Materials, Energy and Transportation. See also Item 7A. “Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk — “Energy” and “Derivative Instruments / Forward Contracts”.

Transportation

Inbound and outbound freight is a significant expenditure for us. Factors that influence our freight expense are distance between our shipping and delivery locations, distance from our facilities to our customers and suppliers, mode of transportation (rail, truck, intermodal and ocean) and freight rates, which are influenced by supply and demand and fuel costs. We experienced continued higher freight costs in fiscal 2019. The principal markets for our products are in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. See Item 1A. Risk Factors — We May Face Increased Costs For, or Inadequate Availability of, Raw Materials, Energy and Transportation.

Sales and Marketing

None of our top ten external customers individually accounted for more than 10% of our consolidated net sales in fiscal 2019. We generally manufacture our products pursuant to customers’ orders. We believe that we have good relationships with our customers. See Item 1A. Risk Factors — We Depend on Certain Large Customers.

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As a result of our vertical integration, our mills’ sales volumes may be directly impacted by changes in demand for our packaging products. During fiscal 2019, approximately two-thirds of our coated natural kraft tons shipped, approximately three-fifths of our coated recycled paperboard tons shipped and approximately one-fifth of our bleached paperboard tons shipped were delivered to our converting operations, primarily to manufacture folding and beverage cartons, and approximately three-fourths of our containerboard tons shipped, including trade swaps and buy/sell transactions, were delivered to our converting operations to manufacture corrugated products. Under the terms of our Seven Hills joint venture arrangement, our joint venture partner is required to purchase all of the qualifying gypsum paperboard liner produced by Seven Hills. Excluding the production from Seven Hills and from our Aurora, IL facility, which is converted into book covers and other products, approximately one-third of our specialty recycled paperboard tons shipped in fiscal 2019 were delivered to our converting operations, primarily to manufacture interior partitions. We have the ability to move our internal sourcing among certain of our mills to optimize the efficiency of our operations.

As a result of our broad portfolio of differentiated and sustainable paper and packaging solutions, we serve over 15,000 customers, including over 150 customers that buy at least $1 million from each of our segments. We believe that our ability to leverage our full portfolio of differentiated solutions and capabilities enables us to set ourselves apart from our competitors.

We market our products primarily through our own sales force. We also market a number of our products through independent sales representatives, independent distributors or both. We generally pay our sales personnel a combination of base salary, commissions and annual bonus. We pay our independent sales representatives on a commission basis. Orders from our customers generally do not have significant lead times. We discuss foreign net sales to unaffiliated customers and other non-U.S. operations financial and other segment information in Note 7. Segment Information of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements.

Competition

We operate in a competitive global marketplace and compete with many large, well established and highly competitive manufacturers and service providers. Our business is affected by a range of macroeconomic conditions, including industry capacity changes, global competition, economic conditions in the U.S. and abroad, as well as fluctuations in currency exchange rates.

The industries we operate in are highly competitive, and no single company dominates any of those industries. Our containerboard and paperboard operations compete with integrated and non-integrated national and regional companies operating primarily in North America, and to a limited extent, manufacturers outside of North America. Our competitors include large and small, vertically integrated companies and numerous smaller non-integrated companies. In the corrugated packaging and folding and beverage carton markets, we compete with a significant number of national, regional and local packaging suppliers in North America and abroad. In the solid fiber interior packaging, promotional point-of-purchase display and converted paperboard products markets, we primarily compete with a smaller number of national, regional and local companies offering highly specialized products.

Because all of our businesses operate in highly competitive industry segments, we regularly discuss sales opportunities for new business or for renewal of existing business with customers. Our packaging products compete with packaging made from other materials, including plastics. The primary competitive factors we face include price, design, product innovation, quality, service and, most recently, sustainability, with varying emphasis on these factors depending on the product line and customer preferences. Our machinery solutions represent one example of how we provide differentiated solutions and create value for our customers. We believe that we compete effectively with respect to each of these factors and we obtain feedback on our performance with customer surveys, among other means.

The industries in which we operate have undergone consolidation. Within the packaging products industry, larger customers, with an expanded geographic presence, have tended to seek suppliers that can, because of their broad geographic presence, efficiently and economically supply all or a range of their packaging needs. In addition, our customers continue to demand higher quality products meeting stricter quality control requirements. Demand for sustainable products also impacts our industry. See Item 1. Business — Sustainability for additional information.

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See Item 1A. Risk Factors — We Face Intense Competition and “Risk Factors — We May Be Adversely Affected by Factors That Are Beyond Our Control, Such as U.S. and Worldwide Economic and Financial Market Conditions, and Social and Political Change.

Governmental Regulation

Health and Safety Regulations

Our operations are subject to a broad range of foreign, federal, state and local laws and regulations relating to workplace safety and worker health, including the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (“OSHA”) and similar laws and regulations. OSHA, among other things, establishes asbestos standards for the workplace. Although we do not use asbestos in manufacturing our products, asbestos containing material (“ACM”) is present in some of our facilities. For those facilities where ACM is present and asbestos is subject to regulation, we have established procedures for properly managing ACM, including, but not limited to, employee training and work practices to maintain the ACM in good condition and minimize exposure. We do not believe that future compliance with health and safety laws and regulations will have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, financial condition or cash flows.

Environmental and Other Matters

Environmental compliance requirements are a significant factor affecting our business. We employ manufacturing processes that result in various discharges, emissions and wastes. These processes are subject to numerous federal, state, local and international environmental laws and regulations, as well as the requirements of environmental permits and similar authorizations issued by various governmental authorities.

On January 31, 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (the “EPA”) published a set of four interrelated final rules establishing national air emissions standards for hazardous air pollutants from industrial, commercial and institutional boilers and process heaters, commonly known as “Boiler MACT.” Boiler MACT required compliance by January 31, 2016 or by January 31, 2017 for those mills for which we obtained a prior compliance extension. All work required for our boilers to comply with the rule has been completed. On July 29, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a ruling on the consolidated cases challenging Boiler MACT. The court vacated key portions of the rule, including emission limits for certain subcategories of solid fuel boilers, and remanded other issues to the EPA for further rulemaking. At this time, we cannot predict with certainty how this decision will impact our existing Boiler MACT strategies or whether we will incur additional costs to comply with any revised Boiler MACT standards.

In addition to Boiler MACT, we are subject to several other federal, state, local and international environmental rules that may impact our business, including the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, fine particulate matter and ozone for facilities in the U.S.

We are involved in various administrative proceedings relating to environmental matters that arise in the normal course of business, and we may become involved in similar matters in the future. Although the ultimate outcome of these proceedings cannot be predicted with certainty and we cannot at this time estimate any reasonably possible losses based on available information, we do not believe that the currently expected outcome of any environmental proceedings and claims that are pending or threatened against us will have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, financial condition or cash flows.

See Item 1A. Risk Factors — We are Subject to a Wide Variety of Laws, Regulations and Other Requirements That are Subject to Change and May Impose Substantial Compliance Costs”.

CERCLA and Other Remediation Costs

We face potential liability under federal, state, local and international laws as a result of releases, or threatened releases, of hazardous substances into the environment from various sites owned and operated by third parties at which Company-generated wastes have allegedly been deposited. Generators of hazardous substances sent to off-site disposal locations at which environmental problems exist, as well as the owners of those sites and certain other classes of persons, are liable for response costs for the investigation and remediation of such sites under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (“CERCLA”) and analogous laws. While joint and several liability is authorized under CERCLA, liability is typically shared with other potentially

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responsible parties (“PRPs”) and costs are commonly allocated according to relative amounts of waste deposited and other factors.

In addition, certain of our current or former locations are being investigated or remediated under various environmental laws, including CERCLA. Based on information known to us and assumptions, we do not believe that the costs of these projects will have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, financial condition or cash flows. However, the discovery of contamination or the imposition of additional obligations, including natural resources damaged at these or other sites in the future could result in additional costs.

On January 26, 2009, Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation (“Smurfit-Stone”), which we acquired in fiscal 2011, and certain of its subsidiaries filed a voluntary petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Smurfit-Stone’s Canadian subsidiaries also filed to reorganize in Canada. We believe that matters relating to previously identified third party PRP sites and certain facilities formerly owned or operated by Smurfit-Stone have been satisfied by claims in the Smurfit-Stone bankruptcy proceedings. However, we may face additional liability for cleanup activity at sites that are not subject to the bankruptcy discharge, but are not currently identified. The final bankruptcy distributions were made in fiscal 2018.

We believe that we can assert claims for indemnification pursuant to existing rights we have under purchase and other agreements in connection with certain remediation sites. In addition, we believe that we have insurance coverage, subject to applicable deductibles/retentions, policy limits and other conditions, for certain environmental matters. However, there can be no assurance that we will be successful with respect to any claim regarding these insurance or indemnification rights or that, if we are successful, any amounts paid pursuant to the insurance or indemnification rights will be sufficient to cover all our costs and expenses. We also cannot predict with certainty whether we will be required to perform remediation projects at other locations, and it is possible that our remediation requirements and costs could increase materially in the future and exceed current reserves. In addition, we cannot currently assess with certainty the impact that future changes in cleanup standards or federal, state or other environmental laws, regulations or enforcement practices will have on our results of operations, financial condition or cash flows.

We estimate that we will invest approximately $15 million for capital expenditures during fiscal 2020 in connection with matters relating to environmental compliance. It is possible that our capital expenditure assumptions and the project completion dates may change, and our projections are subject to change due to items such as the finalization of ongoing engineering projects and the outcomes of pending legal challenges to the Boiler MACT rules.

Climate Change

Certain jurisdictions in which we have manufacturing facilities or other investments have taken actions to address climate change. The EPA has issued the Clean Air Act permitting regulations applicable to certain facilities that emit greenhouse gases (“GHG”). The EPA also has promulgated a rule requiring certain industrial facilities that emit 25,000 metric tons or more of carbon dioxide equivalent per year to file an annual report of their emissions. While we have facilities subject to existing GHG permitting and reporting requirements, the impact of these requirements has not been material to date.

Additionally, the EPA has been working on rulemakings aimed at cutting carbon emissions from power plants. On June 20, 2019, the EPA issued the final Affordable Clean Energy (“ACE”) rule, which establishes emission guidelines for states to use in developing plans to address greenhouse gas emissions from existing coal-fired power plants. The ACE rule replaced a final rule issued by the EPA in 2015 establishing GHG emission guidelines for existing electric utility generating units, which was stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court and has never gone into effect. Although the ACE rule does not apply directly to the power generation facilities at our mills, it has the potential to increase the cost of purchased electricity for our manufacturing operations and change the treatment of certain types of biomass that are currently considered carbon neutral. Due to uncertainties regarding the implementation of the ACE rule, its potential impacts on us cannot be quantified with certainty at this time.

In addition to national efforts to regulate climate change, some U.S. states in which we have manufacturing operations are taking measures to reduce GHG emissions, such as requiring GHG emissions reporting or developing regional cap-and-trade programs. California has enacted a cap-and-trade program that took effect in 2012, and includes enforceable compliance obligations that began in 2013. In 2017, California extended the cap-and-trade program to 2030. We do not have any manufacturing facilities that are subject to the cap-and-trade

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requirements in California; however, we are continuing to monitor the implementation of this program as well as proposed mandatory GHG reduction efforts in other states. The Washington Department of Ecology issued a final rule, known as the Clean Air Rule, in 2016, which applies to facilities that have average annual carbon dioxide equivalent emissions equal to or exceeding 100,000 metric tons/year. Energy intensive and trade exposed facilities, including our Tacoma, WA and Longview, WA mills, and transportation fuel importers are subject to regulation under this program. Various groups filed lawsuits against the Washington Department of Ecology challenging the Clean Air Rule and, in 2018, the Thurston County Superior Court invalidated the Clean Air Rule. The Washington Department of Ecology subsequently filed an appeal with the State Supreme Court. The case was argued before the Supreme Court on March 19, 2019, and an opinion is expected before the end of 2019. Implementation of the Clean Air Rule has been stayed while the appeal is pending. In June 2019, the State of New York passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (“CLCPA”). This legislation, which becomes effective in January 2020, commits the state to reaching net zero GHG emissions, with interim goals of a 40% reduction in absolute terms from 1990 levels by 2030 and an 85% reduction by 2050. Our Solvay, NY mill could be affected by the implementation of the CLCPA, although we cannot currently quantify any impacts due to uncertainties regarding implementation of the law. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has issued regulations that would link the Commonwealth to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (“RGGI”), which is a nine-state, market-based carbon cap-and-trade program. Although industrial facilities like our paper mills and converting facilities in Virginia would be exempt from the RGGI regulations, electric generating units and utilities subject to the RGGI carbon reduction requirements may incur increased costs that could be passed on to ratepayers like our industrial facilities in Virginia. The State Air Pollution Control Board approved the final RGGI carbon trading regulations in April 2019; however, legislative amendments made to Virginia’s 2019 budget currently block the use of state funds to join RGGI or any climate change compacts, and to prevent using any cap-and-trade revenue without General Assembly approval. In September 2019, Governor Ralph Northam issued Executive Order 43 (“EO 43”), setting goals for Virginia to generate 30 percent of its electricity from carbon-free sources by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050. EO 43 directs various state agencies, including the Department of Environmental Quality, to develop a plan of action to meet these energy goals and address related issues such as energy storage, energy efficiency and environmental justice.

The agreement signed in April 2016 among the U.S. and over 170 other countries, which arose out of negotiations at the United Nation’s Conference of Parties (COP21) climate summit in December 2015 (the “Paris Agreement”), established a framework for reducing global GHG emissions. By signing the Paris Agreement, the U.S. made a non-binding commitment to reduce economy-wide GHG emissions by 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025. Other countries in which we conduct business, including China, European Union member states and India, have set GHG reduction targets. The Paris Agreement became effective in November 2016. Although a party to the agreement may not provide the required one-year notice of withdrawal until three years after the effective date, in 2017, President Trump announced that the U.S. intended to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. At this time, it is not possible to determine how the Paris Agreement, or any potential U.S. commitments in lieu of those under the agreement, may impact U.S. industrial facilities, including our domestic operations.

Several of our international facilities are located in countries that have already adopted GHG emissions trading schemes. For example, Quebec has become a member of the Western Climate Initiative, which is a collaboration among California and certain Canadian provinces that have joined together to create a cap-and-trade program to reduce GHG emissions. In 2009, Quebec adopted a target of reducing GHG emissions by 20% below 1990 levels by 2020 and 37.5% from 1990 levels by 2030. In 2011, Quebec issued a final regulation establishing a regional cap-and-trade program that required reductions in GHG emissions from covered emitters as of January 1, 2013. Our mill in Quebec is subject to these cap-and-trade requirements, although the direct impact of this regulation has not been material to date. Compliance with this program and other similar programs may require future expenditures to meet required GHG emission reduction requirements in future years.

Regulation related to climate change continues to develop in the areas of the world where we conduct business. We have systems in place for tracking the GHG emissions from our energy-intensive facilities, and we carefully monitor developments in climate related laws, regulations and policies to assess the potential impact of such developments on our results of operations, financial condition, cash flows and disclosure obligations.

Sustainability

Sustainability is an integral part of our business strategy and one of our four stated key value drivers for our customers. Paper-based packaging has several attributes that, we believe, makes it well-suited to helping our customers provide sustainable solutions for their customers. For example, it is lightweight, durable, versatile, and in

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many instances, recyclable and made with renewable materials. Given the size and geographic breadth of our manufacturing operations and our history of developing innovative products and solutions, we believe that we are uniquely positioned to help our customers improve their sustainability. Also, we are helping to drive the development of the circular economy by recovering used paper-based packaging through our extensive network of recycling facilities and turning the recovered fiber into new packaging or selling it to others to use to make new products. Examples of our commitment to sustainability include having one of the industry’s largest certified virgin fiber procurement systems and heading an industry-leading foodservice recycling initiative. We have been recognized for our sustainability efforts through, among other things, industry award programs and inclusion in the FTSE 4 Good index.

Patents and Other Intellectual Property

We hold a substantial number of foreign and domestic trademarks, trademark applications, trade names, patents, patent applications and licenses relating to our business, our products and our production processes. Our patent portfolio consists primarily of utility and design patents relating to our products and manufacturing operations. It also includes exclusive rights to substantial proprietary packaging system technology in the U.S. or other licenses obtained from a third party. Our brand name and logo, and certain of our products and services, are protected by domestic and foreign trademark rights. Our patents, trademarks and other intellectual property rights, particularly those relating to our converting operations, are important to our operations as a whole. Our intellectual property has various expiration dates.

Employees

At September 30, 2019, we employed approximately 51,100 people, of which approximately 78% were located in the U.S. and Canada and 22% were located in Europe, South America, Mexico and Asia/Pacific. Of the approximately 51,100 employees, approximately 71% were hourly and 29% were salaried. Approximately 46% of our hourly employees in the U.S. and Canada are covered by collective bargaining agreements (“CBA” or “CBAs”), which typically have four to six year terms. Approximately 17% of those employees covered under CBAs are operating under agreements that expire within one year and approximately 4% of those employees are working under expired contracts.

While we have experienced isolated work stoppages in the past, we have been able to resolve them, and we believe that working relationships with our employees are generally good. While the terms of our CBAs vary, we believe the material terms of the agreements are customary for the industry, the type of facility, the classification of the employees and the geographic location covered.

In October 2014, we entered into a master agreement with the United Steelworkers Union (“USW”) that applied to substantially all of our legacy RockTenn facilities represented by the USW at that time. The agreement has a six year term and covers a number of specific items, including wages, medical coverage and certain other benefit programs, substance abuse testing and successorship. Individual facilities will continue to have local agreements for subjects not covered by the master agreement and those agreements will continue to have staggered terms. Wage increases specified in the master agreement have been negotiated and ratified. The master agreement permits us to apply its terms to USW employees who work at facilities we acquire during the term of the agreement, and, it now covers many former MeadWestvaco, KapStone and other facilities acquired. WestRock and the USW are currently re-negotiating a successor agreement to the original master agreement. The master agreement covers approximately 63 of our U.S. facilities and approximately 8,900 of our employees.

See Item 1A. Risk Factors — We May Be Adversely Impacted By Work Stoppages and Other Labor Relations Matters”.

International Operations

Our operations outside the U.S. are conducted through subsidiaries located in Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Sales attributable to non-U.S. operations were 18.2%, 19.9% and 17.6% of our net sales in fiscal 2019, 2018 and 2017, respectively, some of which were transacted in U.S. dollars. See Note 7. Segment Information of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements for additional information. See also Item 1A. Risk Factors — We are Exposed to Risks Related to International Sales and Operations”.

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Available Information

Our Internet address is www.westrock.com. Our Internet address is included herein as an inactive textual reference only. The information contained on our website is not incorporated by reference herein and should not be considered part of this report. We file annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy statements and other information with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and we make available free of charge most of our SEC filings through our Internet website as soon as reasonably practicable after filing with the SEC. You may access these SEC filings via the hyperlink that we provide on our website to a third-party SEC filings website. We also make available on our website our board committee charters, as well as the corporate governance guidelines adopted by our board of directors, our Code of Conduct for employees, our Code of Conduct and Ethics for the Board of Directors and our Code of Ethical Conduct for Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) and Senior Financial Officers. Any amendments to, or waiver from, any provision of these codes that are required to be disclosed will be posted on our website. We will also provide copies of these documents, without charge, at the written request of any stockholder of record. Requests for copies should be mailed to: WestRock Company, 1000 Abernathy Road NE, Atlanta, Georgia 30328, Attention: Corporate Secretary. 

Forward-Looking Information

This report contains statements that relate to future, rather than past, events. These statements are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. The forward-looking statements made in this report often address our expected future business and financial performance and financial conditions, and often contain words such as “may”, “will”, “could”, “would”, “anticipate”, “intend”, “estimate”, “project”, “plan”, “believe”, “expect”, “target” and “potential”, or refer to future time periods. Forward-looking statements are based on currently available information and our current expectations, beliefs, plans or forecasts, and include statements made in this report regarding, among other things:

 

our belief that we are one of the largest paper recyclers in North America;

 

our belief that we are the largest manufacturer of solid fiber partitions in North America measured by net sales;

 

our expectation that we will complete the monetization of our Land and Development holdings during fiscal 2020;

 

our belief that we would be able to source significant replacement quantities from other suppliers in the event we incur production disruptions for recycled or virgin containerboard and paperboard;

 

our belief that we have good relationships with our customers;

 

our belief that our ability to leverage our full portfolio of differentiated solutions and capabilities enables us to set ourselves apart from our competitors;

 

our belief that we compete effectively on price, design, product innovation, quality and service;

 

our belief that future compliance with health and safety laws and regulations will not have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, financial condition or cash flows;

 

our belief that the currently expected outcome of any environmental proceedings and claims that are pending or threatened against us will not have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, financial condition or cash flows;

 

our belief that the costs associated with investigations or remediations under various environmental laws and regulations, including CERCLA, will not have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, financial condition or cash flows;

 

our belief that matters relating to previously identified third party PRP sites and certain facilities formerly owned or operated by Smurfit-Stone have been satisfied by claims in the Smurfit-Stone bankruptcy proceedings;

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our belief that we can assert claims for indemnification pursuant to existing rights we have under purchase and other agreements in connection with certain remediation sites and have insurance coverage, subject to applicable deductibles/retentions, policy limits and other conditions, for certain environmental matters;

 

our expectation that compliance with the Western Climate Initiative and other similar programs may require future expenditures to meet required GHG emission reduction requirements in future years;

 

our belief that we are uniquely positioned to help our customers improve their sustainability;

 

that our businesses are likely to continue experiencing cycles relating to industry capacity and general economic conditions;

 

our belief that working relationships with our employees are generally good;

 

our expectation that the benefits from potential, as well as completed, acquisitions and joint ventures will include synergies, cost savings, growth opportunities or access to new markets (or a combination thereof), and in the case of divestitures, the realization of proceeds from the sale of businesses and assets to purchasers that place higher strategic value on these businesses and assets than we do;

 

our belief that we have made significant progress integrating KapStone’s operations into our management and operating structures;

 

our expectation that the KapStone Acquisition will generate run-rate synergies and performance improvements of more than $200 million by the end of fiscal 2021;

 

our expectation that we will continue to incur significant capital, operating and other expenditures complying with applicable environmental, health and safety laws and regulations;

 

that we may be required to incur additional indebtedness or issue equity securities in order to satisfy our payment or investment obligations in respect of Grupo Gondi;

 

that we may form additional joint ventures;

 

our belief that certain multiemployer pension plans (“MEPP” or “MEPPs”) in which we participate or have participated, including Pace Industry Union-Management Pension Fund (“PIUMPF”), have material unfunded vested benefits;

 

that we expect to challenge the PIUMPF accumulated funding deficiency, and that we expect to begin making monthly payments for the PIUMPF withdrawal liabilities in fiscal 2020;

 

that we are may withdraw from other MEPPs in the future;

 

our belief that our existing production capacity is adequate to serve existing demand for our products and that our plants and equipment are in good condition;

 

our belief that the resolution of lawsuits and claims will not have a material adverse effect on our consolidated financial condition, results of operations or cash flows;

 

that we expect in the future to continue to evaluate potential acquisitions similar to those completed in the past, although the size of individual acquisitions may vary;

 

our belief that our strong balance sheet and cash flow provide us the flexibility to continue to invest to sustain and improve our operating performance;

 

our expectation that we will generate net sales of between $18.0 and $18.5 billion in fiscal 2020, and the factors thereof;

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our expectation that our earnings in fiscal 2020 to be impacted by pricing declines, as well as cost inflation related to wages, benefits and other non-commodity categories, and that we expect to experience commodity cost deflation, particularly related to recycled fiber;

 

our expectation that slightly more of our earnings will be generated in the second half of the fiscal year than in the first half of the fiscal year due to seasonality, the timing of scheduled mill maintenance outages and our strategic capital projects;

 

our expectation that we will reconfigure our North Charleston, SC mill beginning in the second quarter of fiscal 2020, and that reconfiguration is expected to reduce our linerboard capacity by approximately 288,000 tons and our annual costs by approximately $40 million, including a workforce reduction over a five-month period;

 

that the new paper machine at our Florence, SC mill is scheduled to start up during the spring of 2020, and that we expect to incur maintenance downtime during the first quarter of fiscal 2020 in connection with this project;

 

that the upgrade of our mill located in Tres Barras, Brazil is expected to be completed in the first half of calendar 2021;

 

our general expectation that the integration of a closed facility’s assets and production with other facilities will enable the receiving facilities to better leverage their fixed costs while eliminating fixed costs from the closed facility;

 

our belief that it is likely that we will engage in future restructuring activities;

 

with respect to the impact of Hurricane Michael on our Panama City, FL mill, (a) our expectation that all remaining repair work will be completed during fiscal 2020 and 2021, (b) our anticipation that the total of our property damage and business interruption claim will exceed $200 million and (c) our expectation that we will recover the majority of the additional amount of direct costs and lost production and sales, excluding our $15 million deductible, in future periods through insurance reimbursements;

 

our expectation that funding for our domestic operations in the foreseeable future to come from sources of liquidity within our domestic operations, including cash and cash equivalents, and available borrowings under our credit facilities, and that our foreign cash and cash equivalents are not expected to be a key source of liquidity to our domestic operations;

 

our expectation that capital expenditures in fiscal 2020 will be approximately $1.1 billion, that with the completion of certain of our strategic capital projects in fiscal 2019 and 2020 we expect to transition to our long-range capital expenditure run rate of approximately $900 million to $1.0 billion a year in fiscal 2021 and that we generally expect our base capital expenditures to be roughly half invested in maintenance and half invested in high return generating projects;

 

our estimation that we will invest approximately $15 million for capital expenditures during fiscal 2020 in connection with matters relating to environmental compliance;

 

our expectation that we will utilize the remaining U.S. federal net operating losses primarily over the next two years and that foreign and state net operating losses and credits will be used over a longer period of time;

 

our expectation that, including the estimated impact of book and tax differences, subject to changes in tax laws, our cash tax rate will move closer to our income tax rate in fiscal 2020, 2021 and 2022;

 

our expectation that we will contribute approximately $27 million to our U.S. and non-U.S. pension plans in fiscal 2020;

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our estimation that minimum pension contributions to our U.S. and non-U.S. pension plans will be in the range of approximately $24 million to $28 million annually in fiscal 2021 through 2024;

 

our expectation that we will continue to make contributions in the coming years to our pension plans in order to ensure that our funding levels remain adequate in light of projected liabilities and to meet the requirements of the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (“Pension Act”) and other regulations;

 

our anticipation that we will be able to fund our capital expenditures, interest payments, dividends and stock repurchases, pension payments, working capital needs, note repurchases, restructuring activities, repayments of current portion of long-term debt and other corporate actions for the foreseeable future from cash generated from operations, borrowings under our credit facilities, proceeds from our A/R Sales Agreement (as hereinafter defined), proceeds from the issuance of debt or equity securities or other additional long-term debt financing, including new or amended facilities;

 

that we may seek to refinance existing indebtedness, to extend maturities, reduce borrowing costs or otherwise improve the terms and composition of our indebtedness;

 

our beliefs with respect to material changes in future assumptions and estimates related to allowances and impairment;

 

our belief that our estimates for restructuring costs and other costs are reasonable, considering our knowledge of the industries we operate in, previous experience in exiting activities and valuations we may obtain from independent third parties;

 

our belief that our assumptions are appropriate with respect to health insurance costs, workers’ compensation cost and pension and other postretirement benefit obligations;

 

our expectation of the impact of implementation of various accounting standards, including that certain of these standards will not have a material effect on our consolidated financial statements;

 

our belief that the Grupo Gondi (as defined herein) joint venture is helping to grow our presence in the attractive Mexican market;

 

our belief that our restructuring actions have allowed us to more effectively manage our business;

 

our expectation that by investing in a variety of asset classes and utilizing multiple investment management firms, we can create a portfolio for our pension plans that yields adequate returns with reduced volatility;

 

our belief that PIUMPF’s demand related to our withdrawal would include both a payment for withdrawal liability and for our proportionate share of PIUMPF’s accumulated funding deficiency;

 

our expectation that MWV TN (as defined herein) will only repay the liability at maturity from the Timber Note (as defined herein) proceeds;

 

our belief that the liability for environmental matters was adequately reserved at September 30, 2019;

 

our belief that we have substantial insurance coverage, subject to applicable deductibles and policy limits, with respect to asbestos claims;

 

our belief that we have valid defenses to asbestos-related personal injury claims and intend to continue to defend them vigorously, and that should the volume of asbestos-related personal injury litigation grow substantially, it is possible that we could incur significant costs resolving these cases;

 

our expectation that the resolution of pending asbestos litigation and proceedings will not have a material adverse effect on results of operations, financial condition or cash flows and that in any given

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period or periods, it is possible that asbestos-related proceedings or matters could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, financial condition or cash flows;

 

our estimation that the exposure with respect to certain guarantees we have made could be approximately $50 million;

 

our belief that our exposure related to guarantees will not have a material impact on our results of operations, financial condition or cash flows;

 

our expectation that we will not issue additional SARs;

 

that we may enter into various hedging transactions, including commodity hedge contracts, interest rate swap agreements and foreign-exchange hedge contracts;

 

our belief that in the event of a distribution in the form of dividends or dispositions of our foreign subsidiaries, we may be subject to incremental U.S. income taxes, subject to an adjustment for foreign tax credits, and withholding taxes or income taxes payable to the foreign jurisdictions;

 

that it is reasonably possible that our unrecognized tax benefits will decrease by up to $8.7 million in the next twelve months due to expiration of various statues of limitations and settlement of issues;

 

our belief that our tax positions are appropriate;

 

the expected impact of market risks, such as interest rate risk, pension plan risk, foreign currency risk, commodity price risks, energy price risk, rates of return, the risk of investments in derivative instruments, and the risk of counterparty nonperformance, and expected factors affecting those risks, including our exposure to foreign currency rate fluctuations;

 

that the net proceeds from issuances of notes under our commercial paper program are expected to continue to be used for general corporate purposes; and

 

our belief that the decision of the Supreme Court of Brazil concluding that certain state value added tax should not be included in the calculation of federal gross receipts taxes reduced our gross receipts tax in Brazil prospectively and retrospectively, and will allow us to recover tax amounts collected by the government.

Forward-looking statements are based on currently available information and our current assumptions, expectations and projections about future events. You should not rely on our forward-looking statements. Our forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and are subject to future events, risks and uncertainties — many of which are beyond our control, dependent on actions of third parties or currently unknown to us — as well as potentially inaccurate assumptions that could cause actual results to differ materially from our expectations and projections. Particular uncertainties that could cause our actual results to be materially different than those expressed in our forward-looking statements include: our ability to achieve benefits from acquisitions (including the KapStone Acquisition) and the timing thereof, including synergies, performance improvements and successful implementation of capital projects (including our strategic capital projects); risks and uncertainties associated with, the KapStone Acquisition; the level of demand for our products; our ability to successfully identify and make performance improvements; anticipated returns on our capital investments; uncertainties related to planned and unplanned mill outages or production disruptions; investment performance, discount rates, return on pension plan assets and expected compensation levels; fluctuations in energy, raw materials, shipping and capital equipment costs; fluctuations in selling prices and volumes; intense competition; the impact of operational restructuring activities; potential liability for outstanding guarantees and indemnities and the potential impact of such liabilities; changes in law, economic and financial conditions, including interest and exchange rate volatility, commodity and equity prices; our ability to maintain our current credit rating and the impact on our funding costs and competitive position if we do not do so; the amount and timing of our cash flows and earnings and other conditions, which may affect our ability to pay our quarterly dividend at the planned level or to repurchase shares at planned levels; our capital allocation plans, as such plans may change including with respect to the timing and size of share repurchases, acquisitions, joint ventures, dispositions and other strategic actions; the impact of announced price increases or decreases and the impact of the gain and loss of customers; compliance with governmental laws and

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regulations, including those related to the environment; the scope, and timing and outcome of any litigation, claims, or other proceedings or dispute resolutions and the impact of any such litigation (including the Brazil Tax Liability), claims or other proceedings or dispute resolutions on our results of operations, financial condition or cash flows; income tax rates, future deferred tax expense and future cash tax payments; future debt repayment; the occurrence of severe weather or a natural disasters, such as hurricanes or other unanticipated problems, such as labor difficulties, equipment failure or unscheduled maintenance and repair, which could result in operational disruptions of varied duration; and other factors that are discussed in Item 1A. Risk Factors”.

Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made, and we do not undertake to update these statements other than as required by law. You are advised, however, to review any further disclosures we make on related subjects in our periodic filings with the SEC.

Item 1A.

RISK FACTORS

We are subject to certain risks and events that, if one or more occur, could adversely affect our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition, and the trading price of our common stock, par value $0.01 per share (“Common Stock”). In evaluating us, our business and a potential investment in our securities, you should consider the following risk factors and the other information presented in this report, as well as the other reports and registration statements we file from time to time with the SEC. The risks addressed below are not the only ones we face. Additional risks not currently known to us or that we currently believe to be immaterial could also adversely impact our business.

Industry Risks

We May Experience Pricing Variability

Our businesses have experienced, and are likely to continue experiencing, cycles relating to industry capacity and general economic conditions. The length and magnitude of these cycles have varied over time and by product. Prices for our products are driven by many factors, including general economic conditions, demand for our products and competitive conditions in the industries within which we compete, and we have little influence over the timing and extent of price changes, which may be unpredictable and volatile. If supply exceeds demand, prices for our products could decline, and our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition, and the trading price of our Common Stock could be adversely affected. For example, we believe that the trading price of our Common Stock was adversely affected in fiscal 2018 and fiscal 2019 due, in part, to concerns about announcements by certain of our competitors of planned additional capacity in the North American containerboard market, as well as the subsequent implementation of certain of those plans.

Certain published indices (including those published by Pulp and Paper Week (“PPW”)) contribute to the setting of selling prices for some of our products. PPW is a limited survey that may not accurately reflect changes in market conditions for our products. Changes in how PPW is maintained, or other indices are established or maintained, could adversely impact the selling prices for these products.

Our Earnings Are Highly Dependent on Volumes

Because our operations generally have high fixed operating cost components, our earnings are highly dependent on volumes, which tend to fluctuate. These fluctuations make it difficult to predict our financial results with any degree of certainty. Any failure to maintain volumes may adversely affect our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition, and the trading price of our Common Stock.

We May Face Increased Costs For, or Inadequate Availability of, Raw Materials, Energy and Transportation

We rely heavily on the use of certain raw materials, energy sources and third-party companies to transport our goods.

The costs of recycled fiber and virgin fiber, the principal externally sourced raw materials for our mills, are subject to pricing variability due to market and industry conditions. Demand for recycled fiber has fluctuated and may increase due to, among other factors, the addition of new recycled paper mill capacity, increasing demand for products packaged in packaging produced from paper manufactured from 100% recycled fiber and the shift by

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manufacturers of virgin paperboard, tissue, newsprint and corrugated packaging to the production of products with some recycled fiber content. In 2018, China implemented a ban on the importation of some categories of recyclable materials (including mixed paper) and set strict contamination levels for other recovered paper imports. The implementation of these policies resulted in lower demand for recycled fiber in the U.S. and lower associated costs for us in fiscal 2018 and fiscal 2019. If China ends or changes these policies, demand for recycled fiber may increase our costs and adversely affect our profitability. The market price of virgin fiber varies based on availability and source of virgin fiber, and the availability of virgin fiber may be impacted by, among other factors, weather conditions. In fiscal 2019, the profitability of our U.S. operations was adversely impacted by wet weather conditions, particularly in the southern portion of the U.S., which adversely impacted the availability of virgin fiber at some of our mills. In addition, costs for key chemicals used in our manufacturing operations fluctuate, which impacts our manufacturing costs. Certain published indices contribute to price setting for some of our raw materials and future changes in how these indices are established or maintained could adversely impact the pricing of these raw materials.

The cost of natural gas, which we use in many of our manufacturing operations, including many of our mills, and other energy costs (including energy generated by burning natural gas, fuel oil, biomass and coal) has at times fluctuated significantly. High energy costs could increase our operating costs and make our products less competitive compared to similar or alternative products offered by competitors.

We distribute our products primarily by truck and rail, although we also distribute some of our products by cargo ship. The reduced availability of trucks, rail cars or cargo ships could adversely impact our ability to distribute our products in a timely manner. High transportation costs could make our products less competitive compared to similar or alternative products offered by competitors.

Because our businesses operate in highly competitive industry segments, we may not be able to recoup past or future increases in the cost of raw materials, energy or transportation through price increases for our products. The failure to obtain raw materials, energy or transportation services at reasonable market prices (or the failure to pass on price increases to our customers) or a reduction in the availability of raw materials, energy or transportation services due to increased demand, significant changes in climate or weather conditions, or other factors could adversely affect our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition, and the trading price of our Common Stock.

We Face Intense Competition

We compete in industries that are highly competitive. Our competitors include large and small, vertically integrated companies and numerous smaller non-integrated companies. We generally compete with companies operating in North America, although we have operations spanning North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Factors affecting our ability to compete include the entry of new competitors into the markets we serve, increased competition from overseas producers, our competitors’ pricing strategies, the introduction by our competitors of new technologies and equipment, our ability to anticipate and respond to changing customer preferences and our ability to maintain the cost-efficiency of our facilities. In addition, changes within these industries, including the consolidation of our competitors and our customers, may impact competitive dynamics. For example, in 2018, International Paper Company completed the combination of its North American consumer packaging business with a subsidiary of Graphic Packaging Holding Company, which competes with our Consumer Packaging segment. If our competitors are more successful than we are with respect to any key competitive factor, our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition, and the trading price of our Common Stock, could be adversely affected.

Our products also compete, to some extent, with various other packaging materials, including products made of paper, plastics, wood and various types of metal. Customer shifts away from containerboard and paperboard packaging to packaging made from other materials could adversely affect our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition, and the trading price of our Common Stock.

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Operating Risks

We May Be Unsuccessful in Making and Integrating Mergers, Acquisitions and Investments, and Completing Divestitures

We have completed a number of mergers, acquisitions, investments and divestitures in recent years, including the Combination, our investment in Gondi, S.A. de C.V. (“Grupo Gondi”), the Separation, the HH&B Sale, the MPS Acquisition and the KapStone Acquisition, and we may acquire, invest in or sell, or enter into joint ventures with additional companies. We may not be able to identify suitable targets or purchasers or successfully complete suitable transactions in the future, and completed transactions may not be successful. These transactions create risks, including, but not limited to, risks associated with:

 

 

 

disrupting our ongoing business, including distracting management from our existing businesses;

 

integrating acquired businesses and personnel into our business, including integrating information technology systems and operations across different cultures and languages, and addressing the economic, political and regulatory risks associated with specific countries;

 

working with partners or other ownership structures with shared decision-making authority;

 

obtaining and verifying relevant information regarding a business prior to the consummation of the transaction, including the identification and assessment of liabilities, claims or other circumstances that could result in litigation or regulatory risk exposure;

 

obtaining required regulatory approvals and/or financing on favorable terms;

 

retaining key employees, contractual relationships or customers;

 

the potential impairment of assets and goodwill;

 

the additional operating losses and expenses of businesses we acquire or in which we invest;

 

implementing controls, procedures and policies at companies we acquire; and

 

the dilution of interests of holders of our Common Stock through the issuance of equity securities.

Mergers, acquisitions and investments may not be successful and may adversely affect our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition, and the trading price of our Common Stock. Among the benefits we expect from potential, as well as completed, acquisitions and joint ventures are synergies, cost savings, growth opportunities or access to new markets (or a combination thereof), and in the case of divestitures, the realization of proceeds from the sale of businesses and assets to purchasers that place higher strategic value on these businesses and assets than we do. For acquisitions, our success in realizing these benefits and the timing of realizing them depend on the successful integration of the acquired businesses and operations with our business and operations. Even if we integrate these businesses and operations successfully, we may not realize the full benefits we expected within the anticipated timeframe, or at all, and the benefits may be offset by unanticipated costs or delays.

We expect the KapStone Acquisition to generate run-rate synergies and performance improvements of more than $200 million by the end of fiscal 2021. The success of the KapStone Acquisition will depend on, among other things, our ability to realize anticipated growth opportunities, cost savings and other synergies. Our success in realizing these benefits, and the timing of realizing these benefits, will depend on us successfully integrating KapStone with our Corrugated Packaging business, which may be more difficult, complex, costly and time consuming than we expect. The integration process and other disruptions resulting from the KapStone Acquisition may disrupt ongoing businesses or cause inconsistencies in standards, controls, procedures and policies that adversely affect our relationships with employees, suppliers, customers and others. If we are not able to successfully integrate KapStone within the anticipated time frame, or at all, the expected cost savings and synergies and other benefits of the KapStone Acquisition may not be realized fully, or at all, or may take longer or cost us more to realize than expected, the combined businesses may not perform as expected, management’s time and energy may be diverted, and our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition, and the trading price of our Common Stock, could be adversely affected.

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Our Acquisition of KapStone Subjects Us to Various Risks and Uncertainties

As a result of the KapStone Acquisition, we are subject to various risks and uncertainties, including the following:

 

we may fail to realize anticipated synergies, cost savings, operating efficiencies and other benefits;

 

our incurrence of substantial indebtedness in connection with financing the KapStone Acquisition may have an adverse effect on our liquidity, limit our flexibility in responding to other business opportunities and increase our vulnerability to adverse economic and industry conditions;

 

we may not be able to integrate KapStone without encountering difficulties and diverting management’s focus and resources from ordinary business activities and opportunities;

 

we may face challenges retaining KapStone’s customers and suppliers; and

 

we may encounter unforeseen internal control, regulatory or compliance issues.

Any one or more of these risks could adversely affect our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition, and the trading price of our Common Stock.

We May Incur Business Disruptions

The operations at our manufacturing facilities may be interrupted or impaired by various operating risks, including, but not limited to, risks associated with:

 

catastrophic events, such as fires, floods, earthquakes, explosions, natural disasters, severe weather, including hurricanes, tornados and droughts, or other similar occurrences;

 

interruptions in the delivery of raw materials or other manufacturing inputs;

 

adverse government regulations;

 

equipment breakdowns or failures;

 

prolonged power failures;

 

unscheduled maintenance outages;

 

information system disruptions or failures due to any number of causes, including cyber-attacks;

 

violations of our permit requirements or revocation of permits;

 

releases of pollutants and hazardous substances to air, soil, surface water or ground water;

 

disruptions in transportation infrastructure, including roads, bridges, railroad tracks and tunnels;

 

shortages of equipment or spare parts; and

 

labor disputes and shortages.

For example, in 2018, operations at our Florence, South Carolina and Panama City, FL mills were interrupted by hurricanes, resulting in lost mill production and the incurrence of damages, supply chain disruptions and increased input costs (see “Note 7. Segment Information of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements for additional information) and, in 2019, operations at three of our mills located in the southeastern U.S. were temporarily idled in advance of the landfall of a hurricane.

Business disruptions may impair our production capabilities and adversely affect our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition, and the trading price of our Common Stock.

We May Fail to Anticipate Trends That Would Enable Us to Offer Products That Respond to Changing Customer Preferences

Our success depends, in part, on our ability to offer differentiated solutions, and we must continually develop and introduce new products and services to keep pace with technological and regulatory developments and changing customer preferences. The services and products that we offer customers may not meet their needs as their business models evolve. Also, our customers may decide to decrease their use of our products, use alternative

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materials for their product packaging or forego the packaging of certain products entirely. Regulatory developments can also significantly alter the market for our products. For example, a move to electronic distribution of disclaimers and other paperless regimes could adversely impact our healthcare inserts and labels businesses.

Consumer preferences for products and packaging formats are constantly changing based on, among other factors, cost, convenience, and health, environmental and social concerns and perceptions. For example, changing consumer dietary habits and preferences have slowed the sales growth for certain of the food and beverage products we package. Also, there is an increasing focus among consumers to ensure that products delivered through e-commerce are packaged efficiently. For instance, Amazon has begun requiring that all items sold through Amazon that are larger than a specified size be designed and certified as ready-to-ship. Our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition, and the trading price of our Common Stock, could be adversely affected if we fail to anticipate trends that would enable us to offer products that respond to changing customer preferences.

Our Capital Expenditures May Not Achieve the Desired Outcomes or May Be Achieved at a Higher Cost than Anticipated

We regularly make capital expenditures and many of our capital projects are complex, costly and/or implemented over an extended period of time. For example, in fiscal 2019, we completed strategic capital projects at our Porto Feliz corrugated box plant in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo, our Cottonton, Alabama and Covington, Virginia mills, and we continue to invest in strategic projects at our Florence, South Carolina and Tres Barras, Brazil mills. Our capital expenditures for these and other capital projects could be higher than we anticipated, we may experience unanticipated business disruptions and/or we may not achieve the desired benefits from the capital projects, any of which could adversely affect our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition, and the trading price of our Common Stock. In addition, disputes between us and contractors who are involved with implementing capital projects could lead to time-consuming and costly litigation.

We are Exposed to Risks Related to International Sales and Operations

We derived 18.2% of our net sales in fiscal 2019 from outside the U.S. through international operations, some of which were transacted in U.S. dollars. In addition, certain of our domestic operations have sales to foreign customers. Our operating results and business prospects could be adversely affected by risks related to the countries outside the U.S. in which we have manufacturing facilities or sell our products. Specifically, Brazil, China, Mexico and India, where we maintain operations directly or through a joint venture, are exposed to varying degrees of economic, political and social instability. We are exposed to risks of operating in those countries, as well as others, including, but not limited to, risks associated with:

 

the difficulties with and costs of complying with a wide variety of complex laws, treaties and regulations;

 

unexpected changes in political or regulatory environments; earnings and cash flows that may be subject to tax withholding requirements or the imposition of tariffs, exchange controls or other restrictions;

 

repatriating cash from foreign countries to the U.S.;

 

political, economic and social instability;

 

import and export restrictions and other trade barriers;

 

responding to disruptions in existing trade agreements or increased trade tensions between countries or political and economic unions;

 

maintaining overseas subsidiaries and managing international operations;

 

obtaining regulatory approval for significant transactions;

 

government limitations on foreign ownership or takeovers, nationalizations of business or mandated price controls;

 

fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates; and

 

transfer pricing.

Any one or more of these risks could adversely affect our international operations and our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition, and the trading price of our Common Stock.

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We Cannot Operate Our Joint Ventures Solely For Our Benefit, Which Subjects Us to Risks

We have invested in joint ventures and may form additional joint ventures in the future. Our participation in joint ventures is subject to risks, including, but not limited to, risks associated with:

 

shared decision-making, which could require us to expend additional resources to resolve impasses or potential disputes;

 

maintaining good relationships with our partners, which could limit our future growth potential;

 

conflict of interest issues if our partners have competing interests;

 

investment or operational goals that conflict with our partners’ goals, including the timing, terms and strategies for investments or future growth opportunities;

 

our partners’ ability to fund their share of required capital contributions or to otherwise fulfill their obligations as partners; and

 

obtaining consents from our partners for any sale or other disposition of our interest in a joint venture or underlying assets of the joint venture.

We May Produce Faulty or Contaminated Products Due to Failures in Quality Control Measures and Systems

Our failure to produce products that meet safety and quality standards could result in adverse effects on consumer health, litigation exposure, loss of market share and adverse financial impacts, among other potential consequences, and we may incur substantial costs in taking appropriate corrective action (up to and including recalling products from end consumers) and to reimburse customers and/or end consumers for losses that they suffer as a result of these failures. Our actions or omissions with respect to product safety and quality could lead to regulatory investigations, enforcement actions and/or prosecutions, and result in adverse publicity, which may damage our reputation. Any of these results could adversely affect our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition, and the trading price of our Common Stock.

We provide guarantees or representations in certain of our contracts that our products are produced in accordance with customer specifications. If the product contained in packaging manufactured by us is faulty or contaminated, the manufacturer of the product may allege that the packaging we provided caused the fault or contamination, even if the packaging complies with contractual specifications. If our packaging fails to function properly or to preserve the integrity of its contents, we could face liability from our customers and third parties for bodily injury or other damages. These liabilities could adversely affect our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition, and the trading price of our Common Stock.

We Depend on Certain Large Customers

Our Corrugated Packaging and Consumer Packaging segments have large customers, the loss of which could adversely affect each segment’s sales and, depending on the significance of the loss, our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition, and the trading price of our Common Stock. In particular, because our businesses operate in highly competitive industry segments, we regularly bid for new business or for the renewal of existing business. The loss of business from our larger customers, or the renewal of business on less favorable terms, may adversely impact our financial results.

We are Subject to Cyber-Security Risks, Including Related to Customer, Employee, Vendor or Other Company Data

We use information technologies to securely manage operations and various business functions. We rely on various technologies, some of which are managed by third parties, to process, transmit and store electronic information, and to manage or support a variety of business processes and activities, including reporting on our business and interacting with customers, vendors and employees. In addition, we collect and store data, including proprietary business information, and may have access to confidential or personal information in certain of our businesses that is subject to privacy and security laws, regulations and customer-imposed controls. Our systems are subject to repeated attempts by third parties to access information or to disrupt our systems. Despite our security design and controls, and those of our third-party providers, we may become subject to system damage, disruptions or shutdowns due to any number of causes, including cyber-attacks, breaches, employee error or

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malfeasance, power outages, telecommunication or utility failures, systems failures, service providers, natural disasters or other catastrophic events. These vulnerabilities may remain undetected for an extended period of time. We may face other challenges and risks as we upgrade and standardize our information technology systems as part of our integration of acquired businesses and operations. We maintain contingency plans to prevent or mitigate the impact of these events; however, these events could result in operational disruptions or the misappropriation of sensitive data, and depending on their nature and scope, could lead to the compromise of confidential information, improper use of our systems and networks, manipulation and destruction of data, defective products, production downtimes, operational disruptions and exposure to liability. Such disruptions or misappropriations and the resulting repercussions, including reputational damage and legal claims or proceedings, may adversely affect our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition, and the trading price of our Common Stock.

We May Be Adversely Impacted By Work Stoppages and Other Labor Relations Matters

A significant number of our union employees are governed by CBAs. Expired contracts are in the process of renegotiation and others expire within one year. For example, we are negotiating a successor agreement to the original master agreement with the USW, which is scheduled to expire October 2020. We may not be able to successfully negotiate new union contracts without work stoppages or labor difficulties or renegotiate them on favorable terms. We have experienced work stoppages in the past and may experience them in the future. If we are unable to successfully renegotiate the terms of any of these agreements, or if we experience any extended interruption of operations at any of our facilities as a result of strikes or other work stoppages, our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition, and the trading price of our Common Stock, could be adversely affected. In addition, our businesses rely on vendors, suppliers and other third parties that have union employees. Strikes or work stoppages affecting these vendors, suppliers and other third parties could adversely affect our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition, and the trading price of our Common Stock.

We May Fail to Attract, Motivate, Train and Retain Qualified Personnel, Including Key Personnel

Our success depends on our ability to attract, motivate, train and retain employees with the skills necessary to understand and adapt to the continuously developing needs of our customers. The increasing demand for qualified personnel makes it more difficult for us to attract and retain employees with requisite skill sets, particularly employees with specialized technical and trade experience. Changing demographics and labor work force trends also may result in a loss of knowledge and skills as experienced workers retire. If we fail to attract, motivate, train and retain qualified personnel, or if we experience excessive turnover, we may experience declining sales, manufacturing delays or other inefficiencies, increased recruiting, training and relocation costs and other difficulties, and our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition, and the trading price of our Common Stock may be adversely impacted.

We rely on key executive and management personnel to manage our business efficiently and effectively. The loss of any of our key personnel could adversely affect our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition, and the trading price of our Common Stock may be adversely impacted. In particular, our failure to identify candidates with the leadership skills to manage our increasingly complex organization, and our failure to ensure effective transfers of knowledge and smooth transitions involving key executives, could hinder our strategic planning and execution.

Financial Risks

We May Be Adversely Affected by Factors That Are Beyond Our Control, Such as U.S. and Worldwide Economic and Financial Market Conditions, and Social and Political Change

Our businesses may be adversely affected by a number of factors that are beyond our control, including, but not limited to:

 

general economic and business conditions;

 

changes in tax laws or tax rates and conditions in the financial services markets, including counterparty risk, insurance carrier risk, rising interest rates, inflation, deflation, fluctuations in the value of local currency versus the U.S. dollar and the impact of a stronger U.S. dollar;

 

financial uncertainties in our major international markets, including uncertainties surrounding the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, commonly referred to as “Brexit”;

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social and political change impacting matters such as sustainability, environmental regulations and trade policies and agreements; or

 

government deficit reduction and other austerity measures in specific countries or regions, or in the various industries in which we operate.

For example, we may experience lower demand for our products and the products of our customers that utilize our products if economic conditions in the U.S. and globally (including in Europe, Brazil and Mexico) deteriorate and result in higher unemployment rates, lower family income, unfavorable currency exchange rates, lower corporate earnings, lower business investment or lower consumer spending. In addition, changes in trade policy, including renegotiating or potentially terminating, existing bilateral or multilateral agreements, as well as the imposition of tariffs, could impact demand for our products and the costs associated with certain of our capital investments. Macro-economic challenges may also lead to changes in tax laws or tax rates that may have a material impact on our future cash taxes, effective tax rate or deferred tax assets and liabilities. We are not able to predict with certainty economic and financial market conditions, and social and political change, and our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition, and the trading price of our Common Stock, could be adversely affected by adverse market conditions and social and political change.

The Level of Our Indebtedness Could Adversely Affect Our Financial Condition and Impair Our Ability to Operate Our Business

At September 30, 2019, we had $10.1 billion of debt outstanding. The level of our indebtedness could have important consequences, including:

 

a portion of our cash flows from operations will be dedicated to payments on indebtedness and will not be available for other purposes, including operations, capital expenditures and future business opportunities, including acquisitions;

 

we may be limited in our ability to obtain additional financing for working capital, capital expenditures, future business opportunities, acquisitions, general corporate and other purposes;

 

our indebtedness that is subject to variable rates of interest exposes us to increased debt service obligations in the event of increased interest rates;

 

we may be limited in our ability to adjust to changing market conditions, which would place us at a competitive disadvantage compared to competitors that have less debt; and

 

our vulnerability to a downturn in general economic conditions or in our business may increase, and we may be unable to carry out important capital spending.

 

Certain of our variable rate debt uses the London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) as a benchmark for establishing the interest rate. The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority announced in 2017 that it intends to phase out LIBOR by the end of 2021. In addition, other regulators have suggested reforming or replacing other benchmark rates. The discontinuation, reform or replacement of LIBOR or any other benchmark rates may have an unpredictable impact on contractual mechanics in the credit markets or cause disruption to the broader financial markets. Uncertainty as to the nature of such potential discontinuation, reform or replacement may negatively impact the cost of our variable rate debt.

We are subject to agreements that require us to meet and maintain certain financial ratios and covenants and may restrict us from, among other things, disposing of assets and incurring additional indebtedness. These restrictions may limit our flexibility to respond to changing market conditions and competitive pressures.

Credit Rating Downgrades Could Increase Our Borrowing Costs or Otherwise Adversely Affect Us

Some of our outstanding indebtedness has received credit ratings from rating agencies. Our credit ratings could change based on, among other things, our results of operations and financial condition. Credit ratings are subject to ongoing evaluation by credit rating agencies and may be lowered, suspended or withdrawn entirely by a rating agency or placed on a “watch list” for a possible downgrade or assigned a “negative outlook”. Actual or anticipated changes or downgrades in our credit ratings, including any announcement that our ratings are under review for a downgrade or have been assigned a negative outlook, could increase our borrowing costs, which could in turn adversely affect our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition, and the trading price of our

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Common Stock. If a downgrade were to occur or a negative outlook were to be assigned, it could impact our ability to access the capital markets to raise debt and/or increase the associated costs. In addition, while our credit ratings are important to us, we may take actions and otherwise operate our business in a manner that adversely affects our credit ratings.

We sell short-term receivables from certain customer trade accounts on a revolving basis. Any downgrade of the credit rating or deterioration of the financial condition of these customers may make it more costly or difficult for us to engage in these activities, which could adversely affect our cash flows and liquidity.

We Have a Significant Amount of Goodwill and Other Intangible Assets and a Write-Down Would Adversely Impact Our Operating Results and Shareholders’ Equity

At September 30, 2019, the carrying value of our goodwill and intangible assets was $11.3 billion. We review the carrying value of our goodwill for impairment annually, or more frequently when impairment indicators exist. The impairment test requires us to analyze a number of factors and make estimates that require judgment. In fiscal 2019, we identified our Consumer Packaging and Victory Packaging reporting units as having fair values that exceeded their carrying values by less than 10%. Future changes in the cost of capital, expected cash flows, changes in our business strategy and external market conditions, among other factors, could require us to record an impairment charge for goodwill, which could lead to decreased assets and reduced net income. If a significant write down were required, the charge could have a material adverse effect on our operating results and shareholders’ equity, and could impact the trading price of our Common Stock. See “Note 1. Description of Business and Summary of Significant Accounting Policies — Goodwill and Long-Lived Assets” of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements for additional information.

Our Pension Plans Will Likely Require Additional Cash Contributions

We expect to continue to make contributions to our pension plans in the coming years in order to ensure that our funding levels remain adequate and meet the requirements of the Pension Act and other regulations. At September 30, 2019, our pensions were underfunded by approximately $0.1 billion. The actual required amounts and timing of future cash contributions will be highly sensitive to changes in the applicable discount rates and returns on plan assets, and could also be impacted by future changes in the laws and regulations applicable to plan funding. Our pension plan assets are primarily made up of fixed income, equity and alternative investments. Fluctuations in the market performance of these assets and changes in interest rates may result in increased or decreased pension plan costs in future periods. Changes in assumptions regarding expected long-term rate of return on plan assets, our discount rate, expected compensation levels or mortality could also increase or decrease pension costs. These changes, along with future turmoil in financial and capital markets, may adversely affect our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition, and the trading price of our Common Stock.

We May Incur Additional Restructuring Costs and May Not Realize Expected Benefits from Restructuring

We have previously restructured portions of our operations and likely will engage in future restructuring initiatives. Because we are not able to predict with certainty market conditions, including changes in the supply and demand for our products, the loss of large customers, the selling prices for our products or our manufacturing costs, we may not be able to predict with certainty the appropriate time to undertake restructurings. The cash and non-cash costs associated with these activities vary depending on the type of facility impacted, with the non-cash cost of a mill closure generally being more significant than that of a converting facility due to the higher level of investment. Restructuring activities may divert the attention of management, disrupt our operations and fail to achieve the intended cost and operations benefits.

We May Utilize Our Cash Flow or Incur Additional Indebtedness to Satisfy Certain Payment Obligations Related to, or Otherwise Increase our Investment in, Grupo Gondi

In connection with our investment in the joint venture with Grupo Gondi, we entered into an option agreement pursuant to which we and certain shareholders of Grupo Gondi agreed to future put and call options with respect to the equity interests in the joint venture held by each party. We own 32.3% of the joint venture. Pursuant to the option agreement, our joint venture partners may exercise a right on April 1, 2020 to sell us up to 24% of the equity interest in Grupo Gondi at fair market value and, between October 1, 2020 and April 1, 2021, we may exercise a right to purchase an additional 18.7% equity interest in Grupo Gondi from our joint venture partners at a predetermined purchase price. If we exercise our right to purchase the additional 18.7% equity interest, our partners may elect to

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sell us their remaining interest at fair market value at that time, or a portion thereof in the future in accordance with the terms of the option agreement. In addition, in the event that we do not exercise our right to purchase the additional 18.7% equity interest, our joint venture partners may call our 32.3% equity interest at a predetermined price between October 1, 2021 and April 1, 2022. These arrangements, or other arrangements pursuant to which we increase our ownership in Grupo Gondi, may require us to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flow to satisfy our payment or investment obligations, which may reduce the amount of funds available for our operations, capital expenditures and corporate development activities. Also, we may be required to incur additional indebtedness or issue equity securities in order to satisfy our payment or investment obligations.

We May Incur Withdrawal Liability and/or Increased Funding Requirements in Connection with MEPPs

We participate in several MEPPs. Our contributions to any particular MEPP may increase based on the declining funded status of a MEPP and legal requirements, such as those of the Pension Act, which require substantially underfunded MEPPs to implement a funding improvement plan (“FIP”) or a rehabilitation plan (“RP”) to improve their funded status. The funded status of a MEPP may be impacted by, among other items, a shrinking contribution base as a result of the insolvency or withdrawal of other companies that currently contribute to these plans, the inability or failure of companies withdrawing from the plan to pay their withdrawal liability, low interest rates, changes in actuarial assumptions and/or lower than expected returns on pension fund assets.

We believe that certain of the MEPPs in which we participate or have participated, including PIUMPF, have material unfunded vested benefits. In fiscal 2018, we submitted formal notification to withdraw from PIUMPF and the Central Sates, Southeast and Southwest Areas Pension Fund (“Central States”), and recorded aggregate withdrawal liabilities of $184.2 million (nearly all of which was for PIUMPF), which includes an estimate of our portion of PIUMPF’s accumulated funding deficiency. We may withdraw from other MEPPs in the future.

In September 2019, we received a demand from PIUMPF asserting that we owe $170.3 million on an undiscounted basis (approximately $0.7 million per month for the next 20 years) with respect to our withdrawal liability. The demand did not address any assertion of liability for PIUMPF’s accumulated funding deficiency. We expect to begin making monthly payments for these withdrawal liabilities in fiscal 2020.

The impact of increased contributions, future funding obligations or future withdrawal liabilities may adversely affect our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition, and the trading price of our Common Stock. See “Note 5. Retirement Plans — Multiemployer Plans” of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements for additional information, including a summary of the demand letters we received from PIUMPF.

Legal and Regulatory Risks

We are Subject to a Wide Variety of Laws, Regulations and Other Requirements That are Subject to Change and May Impose Substantial Compliance Costs

We are subject to a wide variety of federal, state, local and foreign laws, regulations and other requirements, including those relating to the environment, product safety, competition, corruption, occupational health and safety, labor and employment, data privacy, tax and health care. These laws, regulations and other requirements may change or be applied or interpreted in ways that will require us to modify our equipment and/or operations, subject us to enforcement risk, expose us to reputational harm or impose on or require us to incur additional costs, including substantial compliance costs, which may adversely affect our results of operations, cash flows and financial condition, and the trading price of our Common Stock.

We have incurred, and expect to continue to incur, significant capital, operating and other expenditures complying with applicable environmental, health and safety laws and regulations. Our environmental expenditures include those related to air and water quality, waste disposal and the cleanup of contaminated soil and groundwater, including situations where we have been identified as a PRP. Because environmental, health and safety regulations are constantly evolving, we will continue to incur costs to maintain compliance with those laws and our compliance costs could increase materially. Future compliance with existing and new laws and requirements may disrupt our business operations and require significant expenditures, and our existing reserves for specific matters may not be adequate to cover future costs. In particular, our manufacturing operations consume significant amounts of energy, and we may in the future incur additional or increased capital, operating and other expenditures from changes due to new or increased climate-related and other environmental regulations. We could also incur substantial liabilities,

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including fines or sanctions, enforcement actions, natural resource damages claims, cleanup and closure costs, and third-party claims for property damage and personal injury under environmental and common laws.

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 and local anti-bribery laws, including those in Brazil, China, Mexico, India and the United Kingdom (where we maintain operations directly or through a joint venture), prohibit companies and their intermediaries from making improper payments to government officials for the purpose of influencing official decisions. Our internal control policies and procedures, or those of our vendors, may not adequately protect us from reckless or criminal acts committed or alleged to have been committed by our employees, agents or vendors. Any such violations could lead to civil or criminal monetary and non-monetary penalties and/or could damage our reputation.

We are subject to a number of labor and employment laws and regulations that could significantly increase our operating costs and reduce our operational flexibility. Additionally, changing privacy laws in the United States (including the California Consumer Privacy Act, which will become effective in January 2020), Europe (where the General Data Protection Regulation became effective in 2018) and elsewhere have created new individual privacy rights, imposed increased obligations on companies handling personal data and increased potential exposure to fines and penalties.

Item 1B.

UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

There are no unresolved SEC staff comments.

 

Item 2.

PROPERTIES

We operate locations in North America, including the majority of U.S. states, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. We lease our principal offices in Atlanta, GA. We believe that our existing production capacity is adequate to serve existing demand for our products and consider our plants and equipment to be in good condition.

Our corporate and operating facilities as of September 30, 2019 are summarized below:

 

 

 

Number of Facilities

 

Segment

 

Owned

 

 

Leased

 

 

Total

 

Corrugated Packaging

 

 

112

 

 

 

61

 

 

 

173

 

Consumer Packaging

 

 

84

 

 

 

55

 

 

 

139

 

Corporate and significant regional offices

 

 

 

 

 

10

 

 

 

10

 

Total

 

 

196

 

 

 

126

 

 

 

322

 

 

The tables that follow show our annual production capacity by mill at September 30, 2019 in thousands of tons, except for the North Charleston, SC mill which reflects our capacity after the previously announced machine closure expected to occur in fiscal 2020. Our mill system production levels and operating rates may vary from year to year due to changes in market and other factors, including the impact of hurricanes and other weather-related events. Our simple average mill system operating rates for the last three years averaged 94%. We own all of our mills.

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Corrugated Packaging Mills - annual production capacity in thousands of tons