SON » Topics » CASH FLOW

This excerpt taken from the SON 10-K filed Feb 28, 2008.


Cash flow from operations totaled $445.1 million in 2007, compared with $482.6 million in 2006. Operating cash flows in both years benefited from companywide initiatives aimed at reducing working capital, but to a lesser extent in 2007. The projected benefit obligation of the U.S. Defined Benefit Pension Plan was fully funded as of December 31, 2007. The Company froze participation for newly hired salaried and non-union hourly U.S. employees effective December 31, 2003. Based on the current actuarial estimates, the Company anticipates that the total 2008 contributions made to its benefit plans will be comparable to 2007 levels which were approximately $17 million. However, no assurances can be made about funding requirements beyond 2008, as they will depend largely on actual investment returns and future actuarial assumptions.

Cash flows used by investing activities increased from $332.1 million in 2006 to $379.6 million in 2007. The Company invested $236.3 million in four acquisitions and the purchase of the remaining minority interest in a European tube and core joint venture in 2007. This was comparable to the level of acquisition spending in 2006. As part of its growth strategy, the Company is actively seeking acquisition opportunities and the level of acquisition spending in any given year will depend on the size and number of suitable candidates identified and



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the Company’s success at closing the transactions. Capital spending increased by $46.1 million to $169.4 million in 2007 from $123.3 million in 2006. Capital spending is expected to return to more historic levels of approximately $125 million to $130 million in 2008.

Net cash used by financing activities totaled $75.0 million in 2007, compared with $125.7 million in 2006. Cash dividends increased 8.3% to $102.6 million during 2007. Net borrowings increased $78.7 million, primarily in connection with acquisition activities. During 2007, the Company acquired 3.0 million shares of Sonoco common stock at a cost of $109.2 million and issued shares through the exercise of previously awarded stock options for proceeds of $49.7 million.

Current assets increased by $84.9 million to $1,027.7 million at December 31, 2007. This increase is largely attributable to higher levels of inventory and accounts receivable stemming from 2007 acquisitions. Current liabilities increased by $98.3 million to $758.1 million at December 31, 2007. This increase was due to higher accounts payable, accrued wages and taxes payable, partially offset by decreases in notes payable. The current ratio was 1.4 at December 31, 2007 and 2006.

The Company uses a notional pooling arrangement with an international bank to help manage global liquidity requirements. Under this pooling arrangement, the Company and its participating subsidiaries may maintain either cash deposit or borrowing positions through local currency accounts with the bank, so long as the aggregate position of the global pool is a notionally calculated net cash deposit. Because it maintains a security interest in the cash deposits, and has the right to offset the cash deposits against the borrowings, the bank provides the Company and its participating subsidiaries favorable interest terms on both.

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