Metsä Board’s comparable operating result in January–March 2022 was EUR 121 million

Metsä Board Corporation Interim Report 28 April 2022 at 12:00 noon EEST
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January−March 2022 (compared to 1–3/2021)

  • Sales were EUR 582.0 million (493.7).
     
  • Comparable operating result was EUR 121.5 million (88.8), or 20.9% (18.0) of sales. Operating result was EUR 140.7 million (82.0).
     
  • Comparable earnings per share were EUR 0.26 (0.20), and earnings per share were EUR 0.31 (0.18).
     
  • Comparable return on capital employed was 21.1% (18.3).
     
  • Net cash flow from operations was EUR 92.6 million (16.8).

Events in January–March 2022

  • The demand for Metsä Board’s fresh fibre paperboards remained strong in the company’s main market areas in Europe and North America. The euro-denominated average prices of paperboards increased by approximately 20% year-on-year.
  • No significant annual maintenance shutdowns took place during the review period. The total production volume was 497,000 tonnes of paperboard, and 368,000 tonnes of pulp and BCTMP.
     
  • At the end of the review period, interest-bearing net debt totalled EUR -99.7 million. Strong financial position supports ongoing investments.
  • The share capital of Metsä Board’s subsidiary Oy Hangö Stevedoring Ab was sold to Euroports Finland Oy on 31 March 2022. The company will recognise a capital gain of EUR 19.2 million in its operating result as an item affecting comparability.  
     
  • The 2022 Annual General Meeting was held on 24 March 2022 in accordance with exceptional procedures. The General Meeting decided to distribute a dividend of EUR 0.41 per share for financial year 2021. The dividend payment date was 7 April 2022.

Russia’s attack on Ukraine and its impacts

Russia’s attack on Ukraine has an impact on Metsä Board’s business operations. In 2021, Russia accounted for 5.6% and Ukraine for 0.7% of Metsä Board’s sales. Russian sales have mainly consisted of folding boxboard sales to multinational brand owners. In 2021, folding boxboard deliveries to Russia were approximately 130,000 tonnes. In March 2022, Metsä Board announced that it will discontinue its paperboard sales to Russia. In addition, new EU sanctions announced in April also ban exports of paperboard products to Russia. The strong demand for paperboard in Metsä Board’s main markets Europe and North America supports the reallocation of the folding boxboard sales previously directed to Russia.

Metsä Group, responsible for Metsä Board’s wood procurement, has discontinued wood procurement from Russia. Procurement has been focused on the existing sourcing areas in Finland, Sweden and the Baltic countries. In 2021, Russian wood accounted for approximately 9% of Metsä Board’s wood supply. Most of the wood imports from Russia have been birch.

Metsä Board’s Joutseno BCTMP mill as well as Tako and Kyro paperboard mills use natural gas imported from Russia in their production. In the short term, the company is looking into ways to replace natural gas with alternative energy forms such as liquefied gas, liquefied natural gas or oil. A sudden halt of natural gas from Russia could affect the continuity of production. By the end of 2030 at the latest, Metsä Board’s goal is that all the energy it uses will be fossil free.

Metsä Board is continuing to monitor the development of sanctions and their impact on the company’s business. The compliance of customers, payment /transactions and the supply chain will be ensured whenever new requirements are set.

Russia’s attack on Ukraine did not have a significant impact on Metsä Board's first quarter profitability nor its financial position at the end of March.

The coronavirus pandemic and its impacts

The coronavirus pandemic shifted consumption from services to goods and increased the consumption of products used at home. This increased the demand for packaging materials, especially in food and other daily consumer goods – the main end uses for Metsä Board’s paperboards. The pandemic also accelerated sales in e-commerce, which increased the demand for white kraftliners. The demand for Metsä Board’s fresh fibre paperboards has been at a record high in all end uses throughout the pandemic.

Metsä Board’s production and deliveries have run smoothly during the pandemic. There have been numerous individual infections at the beginning of the year, but thanks to restrictions, chains of transmission have been avoided.

The company continues to employ precautionary measures that aim to ensure the health of employees and the continuity of business operations, and to prevent the spread of the virus. Despite the precautionary measures, a prolonged pandemic could lead to disruptions in production or the supply chain.

Metsä Board’s financial position is very good. The maturity structure of the loans is healthy, and the company has adequate liquidity. Metsä Board’s paperboard product portfolio has responded to the changes in demand resulting from the pandemic, and the cash flow, which has remained strong, supports financial flexibility.

Result guidance for April–June 2022

Metsä Board’s comparable operating result in April–June 2022 is expected to improve compared to January–March 2022.

Near-term outlook

Demand for paperboards is expected to remain good in the company’s main market areas in Europe and North America.

Metsä Board’s paperboard delivery volumes in April–June are expected to remain at the same level as in January–March (473,000 tonnes). The average prices of folding boxboard and white kraftliners are expected to increase.

Demand for long-fibre market pulp is expected to remain good in Europe and China. The global supply of market pulp is restricted by various factors, including bottlenecks in logistics and unplanned production shutdowns. The impacts of the Covid-19 situation in China create uncertainty in the development of the market situation in the long term.

There will be more planned maintenance shutdowns in April–June 2022 than in the previous quarter. 

Cost inflation is expected to continue. Global problems in the availability of transport equipment and higher fuel prices will increase logistics costs. Other production costs are driven up especially by rising prices in energy and certain chemicals.

Exchange rate fluctuations in April–June 2022, including the impact of hedges, will have a slightly positive impact on the operating result compared to January–March 2022 and April–June 2021.

Metsä Board’s CEO Mika Joukio:

“Metsä Board’s profitability remained very good in the first quarter of 2022. Our sales amounted to EUR 582 million, and our comparable operating result to EUR 121 million. The comparable return on capital employed exceeded 21%. No significant annual maintenance shutdowns took place in the first quarter, and production volumes were high – a new quarterly record was achieved in pulp and BCTMP production. Paperboard delivery volumes increased over the previous quarter, and the order backlog remained high.

The euro-denominated average prices of our paperboards have increased by approximately 20% year-on-year. Successful price increases have offset rapid cost inflation, especially in logistics, chemicals and energy. In logistics, costs are rising due to higher fuel prices and problems related to the availability of transport capacity, which we expect to continue in the near future. 

The demand for market pulp was at a good level in both Europe and China. Market pulp prices have been rising since the end of last year, as global bottlenecks in logistics and unplanned production shutdowns have reduced market pulp supply.

At the end of the period, our net debt was approximately EUR -100 million, ensuring a solid foundation for our ongoing investments. The new recovery boiler and turbine in Husum will start up in the autumn, increasing our energy self-sufficiency. With an eye on the investment to expand our folding boxboard capacity in Husum, we have gradually begun to increase our inventories. 

Russia’s attack on Ukraine creates uncertainty in the global economy and is reflected in Metsä Board’s business. Paperboard sales to Russia have been discontinued, and wood is no longer imported from Russia. We plan to reallocate paperboard sales to other market areas and we are exploring alternatives to replace natural gas imported from Russia in our production. Naturally, we are very concerned about the people suffering because of the war and their survival.

The demand for sustainably produced paperboards currently exceeds supply, and in the long term, demand will be supported by the resource efficiency of materials and the reduction of plastic use. Our operations highlight the principles of the circular economy, and we are systematically continuing our measures to mitigate climate change. We aim for entirely fossil free mills and products by the end of 2030. Although Russia’s military operations, the coronavirus situation, and global bottlenecks in logistics reduce visibility of business operations, I feel confident about the future.”

Key figures

2022 2021 2021 2021
Q1 Q1 Q4 Q1–Q4
Sales, EUR million 582.0 493.7 518.5 2,084.1
EBITDA, EUR million 161.9 105.6 108.7 466.0
  comparable, EUR million 142.7 112.5 109.1 472.2
EBITDA, % of sales 27.8 21.4 21.0 22.4
  comparable, % of sales 24.5 22.8 21.0 22.7
Operating result, EUR million 140.7 82.0 90.8 375.9
  comparable, EUR million 121.5 88.8 91.3 386.6
Operating result, % of sales 24.2 16.6 17.5 18.0
  comparable, % of sales 20.9 18.0 17.6 18.6
Result before taxes, EUR million 139.1 78.9 90.7 365.8
  comparable, EUR million 119.9 85.7 91.2 376.6
Result for the period, EUR million 120.7 64.2 78.5 314.0
  comparable, EUR million 101.5 71.1 81.5 326.6
Earnings per share, EUR 0.31 0.18 0.19 0.82
  comparable, EUR 0.26 0.20 0.20 0.85
Return on equity, % 26.1 17.3 17.3 19.4
  comparable, % 22.0 19.2 18.0 20.2
Return on capital employed, % 24.4 16.9 16.0 18.2
  comparable, % 21.1 18.3 16.1 18.7
Equity ratio1), % 60 60 63 63
Net gearing1), % -5 0 -4 -4
Interest-bearing net liabilities/comparable EBITDA -0.2 0.0 -0.2 -0.2
Shareholders’ equity per share1), EUR 4.76 4.09 4.78 4.78
Interest-bearing net liabilities1), EUR million -99.7 -6.6 -78.4 -78.4
Total investment, EUR million 107.1 35.0 86.6 220.2
Net cash flow from operations, EUR million 92.6 16.8 119.7 329.6
Personnel1) 2,235 2,390 2,389 2,389

1) At the end of the period

METSÄ BOARD CORPORATION

Further information:

Henri Sederholm, CFO, tel. +358 10 465 4913
Katri Sundström, VP, Investor Relations, tel. +358 10 462 0101

A conference call held for investors and analysts will begin on 28 April at 3 p.m. EEST. Conference call participants are requested to dial in and register a few minutes earlier on the following numbers:
 

Finland: +358 981710310  
Sweden: +46 856642651
United Kingdom: +44 3333000804    
United States: +1 6319131422

The conference call ID is 18042887#.  

The presentation material will be available before the start of the conference call at www.metsaboard.com/Investors/ and https://metsaboard.videosync.fi/2022-q1.


Metsä Board 
www.metsaboard.com 

Metsä Board is a leading European producer of premium fresh fibre paperboards. We focus on lightweight and high-quality folding boxboards, food service boards and white kraftliners. The pure fresh fibres we use in our products are a renewable and recyclable resource, that can be traced back to sustainably managed northern forests We are a forerunner in sustainability, and we aim to have completely fossil free mills and raw materials by the end of 2030.

Together with our customers we develop innovative packaging solutions to create better consumer experiences with less environmental impact. In 2021 our sales totalled EUR 2.1 billion, and we have around 2,400 employees. Metsä Board, part of Metsä Group, is listed on the Nasdaq Helsinki.

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