Metsä Group’s comparable operating result in January–December 2023 was EUR 488 million

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  • Metsä Group

January–December 2023 (1–12/2022) 

  • Sales were EUR 6.110 million (6.980). 
  • Operating result was EUR 498 million (1.302). Com-parable operating result was EUR 488 million (1.276).
  • Result before taxes was EUR 488 million (1.270). Comparable result before taxes was EUR 482 million (1.240).
  • Comparable return on capital employed was 7.2% (19.5).
  • Net cash flow from operations was EUR 926 million (1.227).

October–December 2023 (10–12/2022) 

  • Sales were EUR 1.486 million (1.741). 
  • Operating result was EUR 55 million (316). Comparable operating result was EUR 57 million (311).
  • Result before taxes was EUR 50 million (309). Comparable result before taxes was EUR 51 million (306).
  • Comparable return on capital employed was 3.9% (18.).
  • Net cash flow from operations was EUR 439 million (399).

Events during the fourth quarter of 2023

  • The average sales prices for long-fibre pulp increased slightly compared to the previous quarter. 
  • The demand for market pulp remained quite stable and was stronger in China than in Europe, where demand continues to be restricted by paper and paperboard producers’ considerable production curtailment measures.
  • The average prices of paperboards decreased slightly from the previous quarter. 
  • In the paperboard business, the market situation continues to be influenced by weaker demand for consumer products and increased paperboard import volumes from Asia. Production adjustment measures were continued in the paperboard business.
  • The expansion of folding boxboard capacity at the Husum mill in Sweden was completed, increasing the mill’s production capacity to 600,000 tonnes.
  • The prefeasibility study for the construction of the first commercial mill to produce Muoto™ packaging in Rauma was completed.
  • Metsä Group announced it was exploring the construction of a carbon capture facility at a pulp or bioproduct mill.

Result guidance for January–March 2024

In January–March 2024, Metsä Group’s comparable operating result is expected to improve from October–December 2023.

Events after the review period 

In January, Metsä Group announced it was planning to discontinue sawn timber production in Merikarvia. According to the plans, production will end by the summer of 2024.

In January 2024, Metsäliitto Cooperative signed a ten-year lease agreement for the new headquarters. Metsä Group’s head office will move to the new premises in Keilaniemi, Espoo, during 2027.

Proposal of the Board of Directors on the use of the surplus on the balance sheet

Metsäliitto Cooperative’s Board of Directors has decided to propose that for 2023, interest of 6.5% (7.0 for 2022) be paid on the participation share capital invested by members, and that interest of 6.0% (6.5) be paid on Metsä1 additional shares, 3.0% (4.0) on additional capital A, and 1.0% (1.0) on additional capital B. The Board of Directors also proposes that a surplus reimbursement of EUR 0.30 per cubic metre of industrial roundwood received from a member over the past four concluded financial periods be distributed. The surplus reimbursement will be paid primarily as Metsä1 additional shares, but in money for the part corresponding to the tax-at-source to be carried in terms of each member. If the right to the shares has been transferred to another person in accordance with the statutes of the cooperative, the interest is paid to the person who is registered as the owner on the reconciliation date 31 March 2024. The proposed payment date is 10 May 2024. If the member entitled to the surplus reimbursement resigns from the cooperative before the date of payment, this share of the surplus reimbursement will not be distributed. In total, the proposed profit distribution would be approximately EUR 101 million (101), of which the surplus reimbursement based on wood trade would be approximately 16%.

President and CEO Ilkka Hämälä: 

In 2023, economic activity was low, and growth was weak. This was clearly reflected in Metsä Group’s business operations and overall result. The prices of capital goods, which increased amid the strong growth experienced in 2021 and 2022, also contributed to weaker results. However, the long-term outlook for Metsä Group’s products remains good. Wood raw material obtained from sustainably managed forests is converted in our resource-efficient processes into products that people worldwide need in their daily lives. The Group’s operations and product development aim to provide the functionality required by consumers with minimal material and energy use, thereby contributing to solving global resource scarcity.
In the early part of the year, we announced our goal to measurably achieve regenerative forestry by 2030. This means that the measures we adopt in commercial forests improve the prerequisites for biodiversity and its development. Improved biodiversity makes forests more resilient to the strain caused by climate change.

In 2023, laminated veneer lumber (LVL) was increasingly used in industrial construction solutions. Despite the weak cycle in construction, demand for LVL remains strong, demonstrating the product’s competitiveness.  Working with our customers, we make construction processes more efficient and the material use in structures more ecological. In the second quarter, we made a decision to construct a new LVL mill featuring two production lines on the Äänekoski mill site.

The Kemi bioproduct mill came online in September. In its wood supply, the most modern mill in its field relies on the potential increase in felling in northern Finland’s commercial forests. The peatland drainage of past decades and forest regeneration have led to a situation in which the harvesting of softwood pulpwood in particular must be increased to safeguard forest growth.

Production on the expanded folding boxboard machine in Husum began in the last quarter. Thanks to the 200,000-tonne increase in annual capacity, the paperboard machine is now the most efficient of its kind in Europe. The capacity expansion strengthens Metsä Board’s position as the folding boxboard market leader in Europe and North America.

In February 2023, Metsä Tissue made an investment decision on a new tissue paper line in Mariestad, Sweden. The investment covers a paper machine, three converting lines for the machine’s output, and automated storage and product dispatch. The output, set to increase by 70,000 tonnes, will be sold on the Scandinavian market. At every stage of the project, there has been a special emphasis on reducing the carbon footprint of tissue paper across the value chain, from raw material procurement to the consumer.

In line with its goals, our innovation company Metsä Spring invested in new start-up projects. Our projects at the demo plant stage – the MuotoTM 3D fibre product and Kuura® textile fibre – progressed to the investment planning stage to be carried out in 2024.
We continue to systematically develop our Group to meet society’s needs and the owners’ expectations. Our financial position is strong, and our competitiveness in our chosen products and market areas ensures the continuity of our operations, regardless of economic cycles.

Key figures
2023 2022 2023 2022
1–12 1–12 10–12 10–12
Sales, EUR million 6,110.4 6,980.2 1,486.1 1,741.4
EBITDA, EUR million 845.3 1,636.4 172.3 385.5
  Comparable, EUR million 833.0 1,564.4 174.3 379.5
  % of sales 13.6 22.4 11.7 21.8
Operating result, EUR million 498.1 1,301.9 55.0 315.9
  Comparable, EUR million 487.9 1,276.4 57.1 310.9
  % of sales 8.0 18.3 3.8 17.9
Result before income tax, EUR million 487.8 1,269.8 49.7 309.2
  Comparable, EUR million 481.6 1,240.3 51.5 306.1
Result for the period, EUR million 383.6 998.7 40.8 253.6
Return on capital employed, % 7.3 19.9 3.8 18.2
  Comparable, % 7.2 19.5 3.9 18.0
Return on equity, % 6.8 19.0 2.9 18.2
  Comparable, % 6.7 18.9 3.0 18.1
Equity ratio, % 55.9 60.6 55.9 60.6
Net gearing ratio, % 11.7 3.1 11.7 3.1
Interest-bearing net liabilities, EUR million 662.9 177.0 662.9 177.0
Total investments, EUR million 1,193.2 1,500.4 328.4 416.7
Net cash flow from operations, EUR million 925.6 1,226.8 438.7 398.7
Personnel at the end of the period 9,464 9,155 9,464 9,155
Sales and Operating result
1–12/2023, EUR million Wood Supply and Forest services Wood Products Industry Pulp and Sawn timber industry Paperboard  Industry Tissue and Greaseproof papers
Sales 2,221.7 591.6 2,498.6 1,941.9 1,250.2
  Other operating income 16.3 13.5 33.1 79.9 41.4
  Operating expenses -2,202.8 -518.5 -2,257.3 -1,807.2 -1,048.5
  Depreciation and impairment losses -6.2 -21.8 -159.8 -93.8 -44.5
Operating result 29.0 64.9 114.6 120.8 198.7
  Items affecting comparability -10.3 -3.0 13.3 1.4 -10.0
Comparable operating result 18.7 61.8 127.9 122.2 188.6
  % of sales 0.8 10.4 5.1 6.3 15.1

Near-term outlook

The demand for wood will focus particularly on thinning stands, 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 activity 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 will have a negative impact especially on the demand for spruce plywood and Kerto®  LVL products. However, continued strong construction activity in the US and new business are supporting demand for Kerto LVL. The economic slowdown is reflected in weaker demand in the industrial customer segments for birch plywood, while the demand for standard grades remains higher. 

In the UK, the demand for upgrading is expected to continue at a level that is normal for the season in the next few months.

In the early part of the year, Metsä Group’s market pulp deliveries to China will be affected by various paper and paperboard production shutdowns because of the Chinese New Year. The supply of softwood market pulp will be reduced by the announced pulp mill closures and the poor availability of wood raw material, especially in North America. The price of softwood market pulp is expected to increase during the first quarter. The demand for sawn timber is expected to increase slightly during the first quarter of 2024, and sawn timber prices are also expected to rise.

The paperboard industry’s global market environment will remain uncertain, and the visibility of near-term paperboard sales development will remain weak. The increase in the cost of living affects consumers’ purchasing behaviour and may reduce the general demand for consumer products. The management measures for inventories in the value chain are expected to mirror the market situation. In the first quarter of 2024, the delivery volumes of Metsä Group’s paperboards are expected to increase from the previous quarter. The currency-denominated sales prices of folding boxboard are expected to slightly decrease, and those of white kraftliners to remain stable. If required, the company will continue its production adjustment measures and temporary layoffs of personnel at the Finnish mills in 2024. In the first quarter, total costs, excluding pulp costs, are expected to remain quite stable.  

The business environment for tissue papers will continue 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.


For further information, please contact:

Vesa-Pekka Takala, EVP, CFO Metsä Group, tel. +358 10 465 4260

Katariina Saelan, SVP, Communications, Metsä Group, tel. +358 40 8299455

Metsä Group

Metsä Group has its roots in the Finnish forests: our parent company Metsäliitto Cooperative is owned by over 90,000 forest owners. We use wood to make recyclable products for the day-to-day lives of millions of people globally. We focus on wood supply and forest services, wood products, pulp, paperboards, and tissue and greaseproof papers. We are committed to the principles of regenerative forestry to measurably strengthen the state of forest nature. We promote a culture of diversity, equality and inclusion. In 2023 our sales totaled EUR 6.1 billion, and we have around 9,500 employees.

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