PPG recently held its annual meeting of shareholders in Pittsburgh, where Chairman and CEO Michael McGarry reviewed the company’s continued strategic progress and highlighted its growth in 2018.
“In our 135th year in business, PPG’s 47,000 employees around the world are focused on strengthening our position as a world-leading paint, coatings and specialty materials company. Every day, we strive to achieve our purpose: We protect and beautify the world,” McGarry said. “We are steadfast in our commitment to provide innovative solutions for our customers’ most pressing challenges; deliver consistent growth; empower our people to grow and succeed; create value for our customers; operate our business safely, sustainably and effectively; and deliver value to our shareholders – growing sales and earnings consistently to deliver superior returns.”
At the meeting, McGarry highlighted several financial and strategic highlights for 2018, including:
• Growth in adjusted earnings per diluted share, despite significant and persistent raw material and logistics cost inflation. Adjusted earnings per diluted share from continuing operations were $5.92, compared to $5.86 in 2017;
• Sales from continuing operations of approximately $15.4 billion, up about 4% versus the prior year;
• 3% organic sales growth over 2017; and
• Four acquisitions were completed in 2018, including Paintzen, a technology platform that allows customers to pick colors and schedule painting services; ProCoatings, a leading architectural paint and coatings wholesaler, located in The Netherlands; Hodij Coatings, a leading distributor of well-known professional paint brands, also based in The Netherlands; and SEM, a U.S.-based manufacturer of specialized automotive refinish products.
McGarry also discussed several key sustainability and social responsibility achievements in 2018, including:
• A 10% reduction in PPG’s injury and illness rate, achieving a record low number of injury cases across the company;
• Lower environmental impact, with a reduction in waste usage intensity by 7%, overall greenhouse gas emissions by 4%, and energy intensity by 2%;
• 32% of sales from sustainably advantaged products; and
• Completion of 200 COLORFUL COMMUNITIES™ projects since the program’s launch in 2015 – a significant milestone that allowed the company to impact more than 5.2 million people in 30 countries.
Looking ahead, McGarry said, “We are well-positioned to benefit from continued global economic growth because of our geographic reach; robust growth strategy; excellent product portfolio, innovation pipeline and advanced customer technologies; and enduring commitments to sustainability, ethics and community engagement.”
At the meeting, shareholders re-elected directors James Berges, partner, Clayton, Dubiller & Rice, LLC; John Faraci, retired chairman and CEO, International Paper Company; and Gary Heminger, chairman and CEO, Marathon Petroleum Corp. and McGarry.
Shareholders also approved the appointment of Cathy Smith, executive vice president and CFO, Target Corp., and Steven Davis, former chairman and CEO, Bob Evans Farms Inc., to PPG’s board of directors, effective immediately. In addition, shareholders passed a non-binding resolution to approve the compensation of the company’s named executive officers and ratified the appointment of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP as the company’s independent registered public accounting firm for 2019. Despite working with a proxy solicitation firm to conduct active outreach to shareholders, votes were not sufficient to approve proposals to amend the company’s Articles of Incorporation to provide for the annual election of directors or to amend the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws to replace the supermajority voting requirements.