January–September 2023 (compared to 1–9/2022)
- Sales were EUR 1,519.2 million (1,879.7).
- The comparable operating result was EUR 121.5 million 420.0), or 8.0% of sales (22.3). Operating result was EUR 121.0 million (436.8).
- Comparable earnings per share were EUR 0.26 (0.90), and earnings per share were EUR 0.26 (0.94).
- Comparable return on capital employed was 6.7% (23.0).
- Net cash flow from operations was EUR 218.6 million (161.7).
July–September 2023 (compared to 7–9/2022)
- Sales were EUR 479.0 million (647.3).
- The comparable operating result was EUR 5.5 million (152.5), or 1.1% (23.6) of sales. Operating result was EUR 3.1 million (153.4).
- Comparable earnings per share were EUR 0.02 (0.33), and earnings per share were EUR 0.01 (0.33).
- Comparable return on capital employed was 1.3% (24.7).
- Net cash flow from operations was EUR 76.6 million (66.4).
Events in July–September 2023
Metsä Board’s paperboard delivery volumes decreased slightly compared to the previous quarter. Demand for fresh fibre paperboards continues to be affected by a decline in demand for consumer products, adjustment measures by the value chain and increased import volumes of cartonboard from Asia.
Average sales price of paperboards decreased slightly compared to the previous quarter and remained stable compared to the corresponding quarter last year.
The company continued to adjust production to meet the low demand, and production volumes remained well below capacity levels. Effective working capital management supported cash flow from operations.
Since the summer, demand for market pulp in China has been at a good level, and prices have increased. In Europe, demand continues to be constrained due to major production shutdowns by paper and paperboard producers.
At the end of the review period, the development programme for the Kemi paperboard mill was completed, which will increase the annual production capacity of white kraftliners by 40,000 tonnes and improve the water and energy use of the mill.
An investment shutdown started at the Husum mill, which will increase the annual production capacity of folding boxboard by 200,000 tonnes.
Metsä Fibre’s new bioproduct mill in Kemi started up.
Events after the review period
On 26 October, Metsä Board announced to initiate change negotiations on possible temporary layoffs for its paperboard and BCTMP mills in Finland. The negotiations involve a total of approximately 1,100 employees. The possible layoffs would last a maximum of 90 days and could be implemented in several instalments during 2024. The allocation and amount of layoffs will be specified during 2024. With the change negotiations, Metsä Board is preparing for a possible continuation of the adjustment of production to match the low delivery volumes, if the demand situation for paperboards does not improve in 2024.
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 reduce the general demand for consumer products. The value chain is expected to follow the market situation in its inventory adjustment efforts. In Europe, competition will be increased by the higher import volumes from Asia.
Due to seasonality, Metsä Board’s paperboard delivery volumes are expected to decrease slightly in October–December 2023 compared with July–September 2023 (340,000 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, compared with the previous quarter.
Metsä Board will continue its production adjustment measures and temporary layoffs at its Finnish mills in the fourth quarter.
In China, the demand for market pulp has been better than in Europe, and it is expected to remain stable in the last quarter. In Europe, demand is expected to remain below normal, as paper and paperboard producers continue to curtail production. The limited availability of raw material and the closing down of production capacity will continue to restrict the supply of long-fibre pulp. The market prices for pulp (PIX) are expected to increase in the last quarter. No significant changes are expected in the demand for sawn timber.
Total production costs are expected to remain fairly stable. Fewer annual maintenance and investment shutdowns will take place at mills in October–December than in the previous quarter.
In October–December 2023, exchange rate fluctuations, including the impact of hedges, will have a slightly negative impact on the result compared with July–September 2023 and a positive impact compared with October–December 2022.
Result guidance for October–December 2023
Metsä Board’s comparable operating result in October-December 2023 is expected to be at the same level as in July–September 2023.
Metsä Board’s CEO Mika Joukio:
“After the summer, the market situation for paperboard has remained subdued but relatively stable. The reduced purchasing power caused by cost inflation and the rise in interest rates has led to consumers considering their purchase decisions more carefully and has affected the general demand for consumer products. Increased imports of cartonboard from Asia, especially to Turkey, the MEA region and South America, have affected the market balance especially in Europe, and increased competition.
In July–September, our paperboard deliveries amounted to 340,000 tonnes, still clearly below our capacity level. However, despite the subdued market, the average sales prices of our paperboards remained at a good level. Our sales were EUR 479 million, and our operating margin was 1.1 (Q3/2022: 647 and 23.6). Profitability was negatively affected especially by lower pulp prices compared to the corresponding period last year.
Significant investment shutdowns took place in the third quarter. In September, we concluded the Kemi paperboard mill’s development programme, which will increase the annual production capacity of white kraftliner by approximately 40,000 tonnes and enhance the paperboard mill’s energy and water use. In Husum, we are increasing the annual production capacity of folding boxboard by 200,000 tonnes, and the ramp-up of the new capacity will begin in the fourth quarter. We will be selling both paperboard grades primarily in Europe and North America – areas in which our paperboards already have a strong market position. In September, Metsä Fibre’s new bioproduct mill started up in Kemi. The largest investment in the history of the Finnish forest industry, it will produce 1.5 million tonnes of softwood and hardwood pulp annually more cost-effectively and with significantly lower emissions than before.
Our sales in January–September were EUR 1,519 million, and our operating margin was 8.0 (1–9/2022: 1,880 and 22.3). Paperboard delivery volumes decreased by 23%, and those of market pulp by 32% from the comparison period. Due to low demand, we have adjusted our paperboard, BCTMP and pulp production this year. In the second half, we have temporarily laid off some of our staff at nearly all our mills in Finland. Although cost inflation has slowed this year, it still has an impact on profitability.
In a weak demand environment, competitiveness becomes more important. Metsä Board’s premium paperboard, reliable deliveries and service concept that helps our customers with various packaging challenges are key factors that strengthen our competitiveness. We will also continue to effectively manage our working capital, and in our main markets, we will focus on customers who profit from sustainably produced premium fresh fibre paperboards.
The long-term trends supporting the growth in demand for paperboards remain unchanged. Consumers who value sustainability favour renewable instead of fossil-based packaging materials, and many brand owners have announced their goals of reducing the use of plastics in their packaging in the next few years. Metsä Board is in strong financial shape, which enables us to invest in fibre-based packaging materials with strong long-term growth prospects.”
|Sales, EUR million||479.0||647.3||1,519.2||1,879.7||2,479.6|
|EBITDA, EUR million||21.1||177.1||189.5||503.1||614.6|
|comparable, EUR million||23.5||176.1||189.9||486.1||602.8|
|EBITDA, % of sales||4.4||27.4||12.5||26.8||24.8|
|comparable, % of sales||4.9||27.2||12.5||25.9||24.3|
|Operating result, EUR million||3.1||153.4||121.0||436.8||531.5|
|comparable, EUR million||5.5||152.5||121.5||420.0||520.7|
|Operating result, % of sales||0.7||23.7||8.0||23.2||21.4|
|comparable, % of sales||1.1||23.6||8.0||22.3||21.0|
|Result before taxes, EUR million||4.3||152.4||119.5||431.5||524.9|
|comparable, EUR million||6.7||151.6||120.3||414.7||514.6|
|Result for the period, EUR million||2.8||132.9||100.8||371.7||461.3|
|comparable, EUR million||5.2||132.1||102.1||356.3||451.4|
|Earnings per share, EUR||0.01||0.33||0.26||0.94||1.15|
|Return on equity, %||0.5||26.4||6.3||24.9||22.5|
|Return on capital employed, %||0.9||24.9||6.7||23.9||21.4|
|Equity ratio, %||68||64||68||64||66|
|Net gearing, %||11||4||11||4||4|
|Interest-bearing net liabilities/comparable EBITDA, 12 months rolling||0.7||0.2||0.7||0.2||0.2|
|Shareholders’ equity per share, EUR||5.25||5.53||5.25||5.53||5.86|
|Interest-bearing net liabilities, EUR million||219.6||91.2||219.6||91.2||94.5|
|Total investment, EUR million||49.3||45.2||156.8||227.0||304.1|
|Net cash flow from operations, EUR million||76.6||66.4||218.6||161.7||232.0|
METSÄ BOARD CORPORATION