Sonoco is a $5 billion global provider of consumer packaging, industrial products and packaging supply chain services. When collaborating with our customers, we leverage our deep knowledge of material science, our i6 Innovation Process™, and our industry-leading packaging and services portfolio to create impactful customized solutions that build stronger brands.
Business Strength and Shareholder Performance
2018 net sales were $5.39 billion, up $354.3 million compared with $5.04 billion in 2017. Sales grew 7.0% for the year due to higher selling prices implemented to recover rising material, freight, and other operating costs; acquisitions; and modest volume/mix growth.
We returned $176.0 million to shareholders in the form of dividends and share repurchases in 2018, and $951.2 million over the past five years. We have provided quarterly dividends since 1925 and have increased dividends for 35 consecutive years, while providing shareholders a current 3.1% yield on investment.
During 2018, Sonoco provided a 3.1% total return to shareholders*, which significantly outperformed our peers and the major indices. Our 3-year total return to shareholders of 42.4% compares favorably to a 26.9% total return by the Dow Jones Container and Packaging index and 30.4% return by the S&P 500.
*Cumulative stock price appreciation, plus dividends, with dividends reinvested