Daniel W. Fisher
President and Chief Executive Officer at Ball
Good morning, everyone. This is Ball Corporation's conference call regarding the company's first quarter 2022 results. The information provided during this call will contain forward-looking statements. Actual results or outcomes may differ materially from those that may be expressed or implied. Some factors that could cause the results or outcomes to differ are in the company's latest 10-K and in other company SEC filings as well as company news releases. If you do not already have our earnings release, it is available on our website at ball.com. Information regarding the use of non-GAAP financial measures may also be found in the notes section of today's earnings release. The release also includes a table summarizing business consolidation and other activities as well as a reconciliation of comparable operating earnings and diluted earnings per share calculations. Joining me on the call today is Scott Morrison, our Executive Vice President and CFO. I'll provide some introductory remarks and business performance commentary. Scott will discuss key financial metrics, and then we will finish up with closing comments and Q&A. Ball delivered strong first quarter results amid significant geopolitical and economic conditions. Our company remains deeply troubled by the war in Ukraine, and our focus is on the safety and well-being of our colleagues. In addition, our global employee giving program, and The Ball Foundation to date have provided in excess of $1 million of financial support for humanitarian aid.
And our colleagues near the war zone are housing refugees as well as supporting each other in volunteer efforts in their local communities. We thank our employees and the broader global community for their acts of compassion and giving. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has had a significant impact upon the global business environment. Late in the first quarter, Ball announced that it has suspended future investments in Russia and is pursuing the sale of its aluminum beverage packaging business located in Russia. As we noted in today's earnings release, our ability to achieve our long-term diluted earnings per share growth goal is dependent upon the outcome of our announced intention to sell our Russian business. Note one in today's earnings release contains additional information about the Russia business. To our team in EMEA, we are proud of your professionalism and your quality work during an unimaginable stressful and constantly evolving situation. We are thankful for your support of one another. Looking beyond the challenges that 2022 has presented so far and focusing on the opportunities before us, let's remember the basics. We are the largest producer of sustainable aluminum packaging for beverages and personal care products in the world, and we deliver exquisite aerospace technologies that keep us safe, informed and inquisitive about what's happening on earth and in deep space. Ball has a proven track record of achieving success through leveraging customer focus, sustainability, our people and culture, operational excellence and innovation to drive profitable growth, EVA and cash flow.
No matter the economic climate or the ways of the world, we will adapt, remain agile and grow. Ball has 142 years of experience doing just that. Ball is a recession-resistant company that can effectively manage rising cost over time and will deploy capital to garner the highest possible EVA returns and value to shareholders. With our EVA discipline and Drive for 10 vision as our guide, we are keeping calm, carrying on and enabling a brighter future for our planet and our people. Turning to first quarter performance. Global beverage can volumes were up 1.4%. Global aluminum aerosol volumes were up 10%. Aerospace backlog increased 28%. Comparable operating earnings increased 6%, and comparable diluted earnings per share increased 7%. And our teams were successful offsetting significant cost inflation through pass-throughs, cost recovery programs and procurement actions. Our year-to-date business highlights include: our global beverage business ramping up new lines and breaking ground on two new facilities in North America and EMEA, our North America business growing comparable operating earnings 24% and growing volume over 3% by successfully ramping up new domestic can-making capacity while weaning ourselves off imports into North America, and the team effectively built inventory back to reasonable levels ahead of the busy summer selling season. In addition, the North America team achieved dual ASI certifications during the quarter.
Our EMEA volume growing 10% with operating earnings being flat year-over-year despite $7.5 million of foreign currency translation and late quarter cost inflation, not to mention the team navigating a volatile geopolitical environment across its operating footprint. Our South America business managing through 21% volume declines due to unfavorable customer mix economic volatility and poor weather in Brazil, diluting the volume strength that remains across other South American countries where we are deploying capital to enable can growth. Our global aluminum aerosol team introducing reclosable aluminum bottles for new categories and increasing aerosol shipments by 10%. Our aluminum cups team, installing a new line in Rome, Georgia, to manufacture new nine- and 12-ounce cups with production starting in second quarter. Our cup achieving 90% recycled content, winning an Edison Award and signing a contract with Sodexo Live! to expand our cups' presence at stadiums and venues. Our aerospace team expanding its backlog by 28%, completing its critical design review on SPHEREx and marveling at the on-orbit success of the James Webb Space Telescope with images for public consumption expected in the early summer. And Ball joining the UN Global Compact to demonstrate our commitment to aligning our business strategies and operations with universal sustainability principles.
As we indicated on prior calls and looking forward, our global businesses are absorbing nonaluminum inflationary headwinds and experiencing additional price/cost squeeze in advance of contractual cost recovery. In EMEA, inflationary headwinds accelerated late in the quarter. And going forward, our team is working hard to mitigate their impact through ongoing commercial cost recovery, hedging and energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives. In North America, contractual price escalators based on PPI and other indices have been effective and will continue to phase in throughout the year. We continue to rely on our supply chain for raw material inputs and look forward to additional alliances and investments being announced in 2022 to support domestic U.S. production of aluminum can sheet to further enable long-term growth and substrate shifts to sustainable aluminum packaging for new and existing categories. Underlying demand for aluminum beverage cans remains strong. We exited 2021 with 12 billion units of new installed capacity, and we also have plans in place to exit 2022 with a similar level of new installed capacity available to sell-through in 2023 and beyond. In summary, our global beverage team is preparing ourselves and our supply chains for long-term durable growth while managing notable volatility. Our customers are continuing to lean on the can as their package of choice. Year-to-date, carbonated soft drinks and energy drinks have accelerated their move into cans.
And in beer, cans have maintained package mix share despite declines in total liquid consumption. By region, trends are in North America, following the broader reopenings of on-premise, cans continue to outperform all other packaging substrates in aggregate. Strength in energy, CSD and import beer has bolstered demand for cans. In South America, rising can demand and liquid consumption growth in countries outside of Brazil were unable to offset a 15% decline in total liquid beer consumption in Brazil, though cans maintain their share versus other substrates during the quarter. In EMEA, cans continue to outperform other packaging substrates, particularly in CSD and energy. And we continue to see the need for imports from our Saudi and Indian beverage can plants for the remainder of the year. We are operating safely, controlling the things we can control, focused on executing at a high level and recovering costs, delivering high-quality cans to our customers supported by equitable contracts and closely monitoring and enabling global supply chains through alliances and investments in long-term contracts. We look forward to highlighting our long-term growth plans and management bench at our September 2022 Investor Day. We appreciate the amazing work being done across the organization and extend our thanks to all of our employees and external stakeholders.
With that, I'll turn it over to Scott.