February 2, 2009 / 10:54 PM / 9 years ago

UPDATE 2-Crown Holdings tops Wall St estimates, shares rise

* Q4 EPS ex-items 22 cents, topping Wall St estimates

* Shares rise 4 pct (Adds background on rivals in final three paragraphs)

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Beverage can maker Crown Holdings Inc (CCK.N) reported on Monday a net loss due to restructuring charges and other charges, but its shares rose nearly 4 percent on the underlying profit performance.

Packaging companies have benefited from the decline in commodity prices since the middle of last year, and analysts expect demand for their products to be fairly steady unless the economic slump worsens dramatically.

Excluding items, Crown's fourth-quarter earnings rose to $35 million, or 22 cents per share, from $12 million, or 7 cents a share. Sales were nearly flat at $1.88 billion, reduced by $166 million due to the stronger dollar, Crown said.

Analysts had expected earnings of $29.7 million, or 17 cents per share, excluding items, on revenue of $1.95 billion, according to the averages on Reuters Estimates.

Charges included $17 million related mainly to the closure of two Canadian plants, a net $15 million to boost its asbestos litigation reserve, a net $11 million balance sheet adjustment for currency moves and $6 million in asset impairments.

The Philadelphia-based company reported a net loss for the quarter of $14 million compared with the year-ago net profit of $326 million.

Crown shares rose by 70 cents to $19.25 in after-hours trading. The stock had lost about a third of its value in the past six months, in line with the S&P 500 index .SPX.

Citigroup analysts added Crown to its 'Top Picks Live' list 10 days ago, while removing beer bottle maker Owens Illinois Inc (OI.N). Last Wednesday, Owens-Illinois reported a loss and reduced production to cope with weaker demand. [ID:nN28531628]

Rival can maker Ball Corp (BLL.N) reported flat quarterly profits and sales the following day. (Reporting by Braden Reddall; editing by Carol Bishopric)

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