Metsä Group Interim report January–September 2023
January–September 2023 (1–9/2022)
- Sales were EUR 4,624 million (5,239).
- Operating result was EUR 443 million (986). Comparable operating result was EUR 431 million (966).
- Result before taxes was EUR 438 million (961). Comparable result before taxes was EUR 430 million (934).
- Comparable return on capital employed was 8.3% (20.0).
- Net cash flow from operations was EUR 487 million (828).
July–September 2023 (7–9/2022)
- Sales were EUR 1,509 million (1,823).
- Operating result was EUR 41 million (397). Comparable operating result was EUR 51 million (391).
- Result before taxes was EUR 49 million (396). Comparable result before taxes was EUR 60 million (385).
- Comparable return on capital employed was 3.2% (23.5).
- Net cash flow from operations was EUR 469 million (372).
Events during the third quarter of 2023
- The average sales prices for Metsä Group’s long-fibre pulp continued to decrease compared to April–June.
- In Europe, the demand for market pulp was at a low level in January–September. In China, demand increased after the summer.
- The average prices and delivery volumes of Metsä Board’s paperboards decreased slightly from April–June. The company continued to adjust its production to match demand.
- The new Kemi bioproduct mill and paperboard mill expansion started up on 20 September 2023. The bioproduct mill’s pulp deliveries will begin in October 2023.
- Goole in the UK was chosen as the site for a planned tissue paper mill investment.
- Metsä Group will boost biodiversity on and around its mill sites. Kemi is the first location.
Result guidance October–December 2023
Metsä Group's comparable operating result for October–December 2023 is estimated to be at the same level as in July–September 2023.
Events after the period
In October, Metsä Group initiated a prefeasibility study on the construction of the first commercial mill to produce Muoto™ packaging at its Rauma mill site. The mill would produce wood-based fibre packaging tailored to various purposes.
President and CEO Ilkka Hämälä:
As anticipated, our third quarter performance was poorer than in the previous quarter and the comparison period, and the level of results was weak overall. The key factors affecting the result were the continued low demand in Europe and the increased import of Chinese paperboard in the eastern Mediterranean region. The third quarter saw the launch of production at the new Kemi bioproduct mill as well as the investment shutdown required for the Husum paperboard production line’s expansion investment, both of which increased fixed costs in the period. In Asia, the demand for softwood pulp has continued at a normal level, and the price level began to increase in the third quarter. During 2023, softwood pulp capacity has been shut down in North America and Europe. In Europe, demand for folding boxboard and premium linerboard remains below the normal level. In North America, demand was slightly more active than in Europe.
The slowdown in the construction industry has weakened demand for sawn timber, and the price level has decreased in all markets. Kerto LVL products have seen stronger demand due to the popularity of new construction solutions among customers. The limited number of new construction projects naturally reduces the demand for Kerto LVL products as well. The demand for tissue and cooking papers is typically more stable than in Metsä Group’s other segments. Thanks to Metsä Tissue’s efficiency improvement measures, the result has been at a good level.
In the last decade, Metsä Group has carried out development investments of approximately EUR 6 billion. Investments have been conducted in all our business areas. All the product groups in Metsä Group’s portfolio have good long-term growth prospects in the global markets. Our development work is based on a strong belief in the future success of our industry as a producer of recyclable materials made from renewable raw materials and on our mission to increase the value of the forest assets of Metsäliitto Cooperative’s owner-members. Success in this mission calls for active renewal in every part of our value chain. In the last year, we have introduced several new services and long-term strategic targets to support the vitality of forests and sustainability. We are renewing the Group’s product range by focusing on new wood-based product innovations in our own business and by supporting the development of new companies through investments in start-ups.
Of our demo plant projects focusing on new products, the assessment of the commercial potential of the 3D Muoto project for moulded fibre-based packaging is approaching. Test runs at the textile fibre demo plant are underway, and process development will continue in the coming year. Metsä Fibre is planning a demo plant for lignin products in Äänekoski, while Montinutra, Metsä Spring’s associated company, is planning a demo plant for the production of chemicals extracted from spruce sawdust in Vilppula.
The expansion of Metsä Board’s folding boxboard mill in Husum will be deployed in the last quarter, and Metsä Tissue’s and Metsä Wood’s new mill investments in Mariestad and Äänekoski are progressing.
For all this to succeed, we need professional and committed people among our owner-members, partners and Metsä Group personnel. The Group’s business must match the targets of societies. This offers us opportunities for success and strengthens the motivation of our people working in different roles for our common goals.
|Sales, EUR million||4,624.3||5,238.8||1,508.5||1,822.7||6,980.2|
|EBITDA, EUR million||673.0||1,250.9||117.7||474.8||1,636.4|
|Comparable, EUR million||658.8||1,184.9||126.8||467.0||1,564.4|
|% of sales||14.2||22.6||8.4||25.6||22.4|
|Operating result, EUR million||443.1||986.0||40.8||396.7||1,301.9|
|Comparable, EUR million||430.8||965.5||51.0||391.1||1,276.4|
|% of sales||9.3||18.4||3.4||21.5||18.3|
|Result before income tax, EUR million||438.1||960.6||48.9||396.1||1,269.8|
|Comparable, EUR million||430.2||934.2||60.1||384.7||1,240.3|
|Result for the period, EUR million||342.8||745.1||37.0||313.6||998.7|
|Return on capital employed, %||8.5||20.5||2.7||23.8||19.9|
|Return on equity, %||8.1||19.3||2.6||23.7||19.0|
|Equity ratio, %||57.5||60.2||57.5||60.2||60.6|
|Net gearing ratio, %||13.5||1.5||13.5||1.5||3.1|
|Interest-bearing net liabilities, EUR million||755.7||81.9||755.7||81.9||177.0|
|Total investments, EUR million||864.8||1,083.7||311.9||364.1||1,500.4|
|Net cash flow from operations, EUR million||486.9||828.1||468.6||371.7||1,226.8|
|Personnel at the end of the period||9,725||9,463||9,725||9,463||9,155|
The demand for wood will focus particularly on thinning stands suitable for summer harvesting, as well as on birch logs and roundwood out of delivery sales. In energy wood, the demand will focus on crown wood and small trees. The demand for forest management services is expected to remain strong.
Construction has remained weak in all the main markets in Europe, and no turn for the better is expected in the demand for wood products in the near future. This has a negative impact on the demand for spruce plywood and Kerto LVL products. However, construction activity is expected to continue more strongly in the US than in Europe. The economic slowdown is reflected in weaker demand in the industrial customer segments for birch plywood. Meanwhile, the market availability of standard grades has improved clearly.
In the UK, the demand for upgrading business is expected to continue to remain stable over the next few months but be weaker than the long-term average.
In October–December 2023, the demand for Metsä Group’s softwood pulp is expected to remain below normal levels in Europe and North America. In China, the demand for softwood pulp is expected to remain at the current level. The supply of softwood market pulp is restricted by the limited availability of wood raw material in North America and by the global production curtailments and capacity shutdowns. Pulp market prices (PIX) are expected to increase in October–December.
In the main markets, the demand for sawn timber is expected to remain lower than normal in October–December 2023.
The paperboard industry’s global market environment will remain uncertain, and the visibility of near-term paperboard sales development remains weak. The increase in the cost of living affects consumers’ general purchasing behaviour and reduces the general demand for consumer products. The management measures for inventories in the value chain are expected to mirror the market situation. In Europe, the increasing volumes of paperboard imported from Asia stiffen competition. Due to seasonality, the delivery volumes of Metsä Board’s paperboards are expected to slightly decrease in October–December 2023 from July–September 2023 (340,000 tonnes). The currency-denominated sales prices of folding boxboard are expected to slightly decrease, and those of white kraftliners to remain stable compared to the previous quarter. The company will continue its production adjustment measures and the temporary layoffs of personnel at the Finnish mills in the last quarter.
The operating environment for the tissue paper business continues to be unstable, as underlying inflation remains high. If required, the company will opt for commercial shutdowns to secure adequate product profitability when demand begins to normalise.