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2021-10-27

Metsä Board Oyj: Metsä Board's comparable operating result in January-September 2021 was EUR 295 million

Metsä Board Corporation Stock exchange release Interim report 27 October 2021 at 12:00 noon EEST

January-September 2021 (compared to 1-9/2020)

  • Sales were EUR 1,565.6 million (1,416.4).

  • Comparable operating result was EUR 295.3 million (156.7), or 18.9% (11.1) of sales. Operating result was EUR 285.0 million (162.7).

  • Comparable earnings per share were EUR 0.65 (0.33), and earnings per share were EUR 0.63 (0.34).

  • Comparable return on capital employed was 19.4% (11.8).

  • Net cash flow from operations was EUR 209.8 million (226.7).

Impact of coronavirus pandemic on Metsä Board's business operations

The coronavirus pandemic has increased demand for pure and safe packaging materials, particularly for end uses in the food and pharmaceutical industries. Correspondingly, the pandemic has weakened demand for the packaging materials of luxury items and graphic end uses to some degree. The increase in vaccination coverage and the gradual lifting of the restrictions imposed during the pandemic have increased people's public activeness. Among other things, this has increased demand for food service packaging. Demand for packaging materials made from fresh fibre has been extremely strong during the year in nearly all end-uses.

Metsä Board's production and deliveries have run smoothly during the pandemic.  No chains of coronavirus transmissions have occurred, and the numbers of individual infections have also decreased towards the end of the year.

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, has supported the financial headroom.

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

Events in July-September 2021

  • Demand for Metsä Board's fresh fibre paperboards remained strong in all market areas important for the company. The average prices of paperboards increased clearly.

  • Cost inflation continues to be rapid. In particular, the prices of energy and chemicals increased.

  • The market situation for pulp remained stable in Europe, but the situation in China is more uncertain. The logistical challenges, particularly between Europe and Asia, continued.

  • Metsä Board's financial position is strong and supports the ongoing investments. At the end of the review period, the interest-bearing net debt was EUR -24.8 million.

  • Metsä Board made an investment decision to increase its annual folding boxboard capacity at the Husum integrated mill in Sweden by 200,000 tonnes. The value of the investment is approximately EUR 210 million, and it will be financed with current cash funds as well as future cash flows from operating activities. The investment is estimated to have a positive impact of approximately EUR 50 million on the company's annual comparable EBITDA as of 2026.

  • A fire on the chip conveyor of the Husum pulp mill in June led to production losses in paperboard and pulp in July. The company expects to recognise insurance claims for the production losses during the fourth quarter of the year.

  • Metsä Board plans to redeem all the shares in Hämeenkyrön Voima Oy from Pohjolan Voima and thereby consolidate its local operations in the Kyröskoski mill area.

Events after the review period

On 12 October 2021, the European Commission announced that it was conducting an investigation at Metsä Board Corporation's associated company Metsä Fibre as part of a wider EU-level antitrust investigation of companies active in the wood pulp sector. Metsä Board is not subject to investigation.

Result guidance for October-December 2021

Metsä Board's comparable operating result in October-December 2021 is expected to be weaker than in July-September 2021 (EUR 104.0 million).

Near-term outlook

Demand for paperboards is expected to remain good in the company's main market areas in Europe and the North America. Paperboard order books are at a high level. 

Metsä Board's paperboard delivery volumes in October-December are expected to decline from the delivery volumes in July-September. The decline is due to the annual maintenance shutdowns at the end of the year, low inventory levels, and possibly seasonally slower December. The delivery volumes of market pulp, on the other hand, are expected to increase slightly.

The average prices of folding boxboard and white kraftliners are expected to increase in October-December compared to the average prices in July-September.

Demand for softwood pulp is expected to remain good in Europe. Energy restrictions and carbon emission cuts initiated by the Chinese government will create uncertainty in the operating rates of paper and paperboard machines and thus in the consumption of market pulp for the rest of the year.

More planned annual maintenance shutdowns are set to take place in October-December compared to July-September. 

Cost inflation is expected to continue. In particular, the prices of chemicals and energy will continue to rise. Metsä Board estimates the full-year cost inflation in 2021 to be at least 4% compared to 2020.

Exchange rate fluctuations in October-December 2021, including hedges, will have a slightly negative impact on the operating result compared to July-September 2021, and a clearly negative impact on the operating result compared to October-December 2020.

In the fourth quarter, Metsä Board expects to recognise insurance claims attributable to the production losses caused by the fire at Husum.

Metsä Board's CEO Mika Joukio:

"Demand for sustainable fresh fibre paperboards has been strong across all end-uses and all of our market areas. Our profitability has developed very well this year, and the favourable market situation provides us with an excellent start for next year.

In July-September, the delivery volumes of our paperboards declined slightly from the previous quarter, and were 475,000 tonnes. The decline in delivery volumes was partly attributable to the fire at the Husum pulp mill in the summer, causing losses in both paperboard and market pulp production.

Our comparable operating result in July-September was EUR 104 million, or 20.1% of sales. Correspondingly, our comparable operating result in January-September was EUR 295 million. Our profitability improved thanks to the increased prices for paperboards and market pulp, as well as the higher sales volumes of paperboards. At the same time, our result was burdened by faster than expected cost inflation. In particular, the prices of energy, chemicals and logistics have increased rapidly over recent months. Total costs in 2021 will be significantly higher than they were last year. We expect cost level to remain high also in 2022.

Our interest-bearing net debt was negative at the end of the review period. Our strong financial position creates a solid basis for our sustainable investments in growth and development, of which we have several ongoing and planned. The renewal of the Husum pulp mill will increase our competitiveness and take us closer to our ambitious sustainability targets for a fossil free future. By increasing our folding boxboard and white kraftliner capacity, we are responding to the growing demand of our customers. Our total investments in 2021-2022 will amount to approximately EUR 450-550 million.

Together with our partners, we are continuously developing and testing innovative solutions which support circular economy. During the review period, we announced collaboration with the Finnish startup company The Paper Lid Company. In addition, we've launched a 360 service, which benefits our customers across the packaging value chain. Reducing the volume of plastic waste is more important than ever, and this has been visible in the rapidly growing demand for our dispersion barrier coated paperboard, for example. Paperboard packaging made from a renewable material is a good alternative to plastic. They are easy to recycle and can create positive consumer experiences."

Key figures

2021 2020 2021 2021 2020 2020
Q3 Q3 Q2 Q1-Q3 Q1-Q3 Q1-Q4
Sales, EUR 516.1 471.2 555.8 1,565.6 1,416.4 1,889.5
million
EBITDA, EUR 125.4 84.7 126.3 357.4 236.6 321.8
million
  comparable, EUR 125.4 84.7 125.2 363.1 230.6 315.8
million
EBITDA, % of 24.3 18.0 22.7 22.8 16.7 17.0
sales
  comparable, % 24.3 18.0 22.5 23.2 16.3 16.7
of sales
Operating result, 99.4 62.5 103.7 285.0 162.7 227.3
EUR million
  comparable, EUR 104.0 62.5 102.5 295.3 156.7 221.2
million
Operating result, 19.3 13.3 18.6 18.2 11.5 12.0
% of sales
  comparable, % 20.1 13.3 18.4 18.9 11.1 11.7
of sales
Result before 96.4 58.1 99.8 275.1 150.8 212.3
taxes, EUR
million
  comparable, EUR 100.9 58.1 98.7 285.4 144.8 206.3
million
Result for the 85.4 47.0 85.9 235.5 120.8 170.1
period, EUR
million
  comparable, EUR 89.0 47.0 84.9 245.0 116.0 165.3
million
Earnings per 0.22 0.13 0.23 0.63 0.34 0.48
share, EUR
  comparable, EUR 0.23 0.13 0.22 0.65 0.33 0.46
Return on equity, 19.7 14.6 21.1 19.8 12.2 12.5
%
  comparable, % 20.6 14.6 20.8 20.6 11.7 12.1
Return on capital 18.2 14.3 19.9 18.7 12.2 12.6
employed, %
  comparable, % 19.1 14.3 19.7 19.4 11.8 12.2
Equity ratio at 65 59 63 65 59 60
the end of the
period, %
Net gearing at -1 21 0 -1 21 17
the end of the
period, %
Interest-bearing -0.1 1.0 0.0 -0.1 1.0 0.7
net
liabilities/compar
able EBITDA
Shareholders' 4.63 3.69 4.36 4.63 3.69 3.89
equity per
share at
the end of the
period, EUR
Interest-bearing -24.8 277.3 3.7 -24.8 277.3 235.5
net
liabilities at
the end of the
period, EUR
million
Total investment, 35.3 44.4 63.4 133.6 117.5 166.4
EUR million
Net cash flow 59.1 74.4 134.0 209.8 226.7 307.7
from operations,
EUR
million
Personnel at the 2,389 2,398 2,623 2,389 2,398 2,370
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 at 3 p.m. 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 31973466#.  

The presentation material will be available at www.metsaboard.com/investors and at

Författare Cision