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Owens-Illinois (NYSE:OI) looks attractive now, either as a direct purchase or part of a covered call strategy. Covered call writing works well with companies that have relatively low downside risk and moderate (but not explosive) upside potential.

Owens-Illinois is the world’s largest supplier of glass containers. It operates in 22 countries and has acquired 17 glass container companies since 1990. About 70% of its sales are outside North America.

On July 31, 2007, the company sold its plastic packaging business, in order to focus on its glass container business. Glass is more eco-friendly than other materials, which should cause demand to rise as more consumers become environmentally conscious.

Here are some recent stats on OI:

  • Forward P/E ratio= 8.4
  • Return on Equity= 27.31%
  • Strong Operating cash flow (731 MM)
  • PEG ratio (5 year)= 0.96

The company has been pre-funding cash asbestos claims. As of June 30, 2008, asbestos-related lawsuits and claims pending were 13,000, down from 19,000 at year end 2006.

Free cash flow is expected to rise over the next three years once the pre-funding is completed. Annual free cash flow generation could exceed $1 billion in three years.

The stock has pretty good sponsorship and is owned by the following mutual funds:

  • Janus Contrarian Fund (David Decker) >5%
  • Vanguard Windsor Fund
  • Fidelity Value Fund

Full Disclosure: I am long a starter position in Owens Illinois.

Source: Owens-Illinois Looks Attractive with Strong Free Cash Flow