Near term outlook
Source: Financial Statements Bulletin 2023
The global market environment will remain uncertain, and the outlook for the near-term development of paperboard sales continues to be weak. Higher costs of living affect consumers’ purchasing behaviour and may reduce the general demand for consumer products. The value chain is expected to follow the market situation in its inventory adjustment efforts.
Metsä Board’s paperboard delivery volumes are expected to increase in the first quarter of 2024 compared with the previous quarter (10–12/2023: 299,000 tonnes). The sales prices of folding boxboard in local currencies are expected to decrease slightly, and the sales prices of white kraftliners to remain stable.
The company will continue production adjustment measures if necessary, as well as temporary layoffs at its mills in Finland, in 2024.
Less annual maintenance and investment shutdowns will take place at mills in January–March 2024 compared to the previous quarter.
In the first quarter of the year, total costs excluding pulp costs are expected to remain stable. The unstable security situation in the Red Sea may hamper the sea transport of Metsä Board and Metsä Fibre to Asia and increase logistics costs.
Demand for market pulp in China may be affected by several paper and paperboard production shutdowns during the Chinese New Year. In January–March, market prices for pulp (PIX) are expected to improve compared to the previous quarter, especially in Europe. The global supply of long-fibre market pulp is constrained by announced production capacity closures and wood raw material availability problems, especially in North America. The demand and price situation for sawn timber is expected to improve seasonally in the second quarter of 2024.
Exchange rate fluctuations in January–March 2024, including the impact of hedges, will have a neutral effect on the operating result compared to October–December 2023, and a slightly positive impact on the operating result compared to January–March 2023.
Result guidance for January–March 2024
Metsä Board’s comparable operating result in January–March 2024 is expected to improve from October–December 2023.