Ahlstrom-Munksjö Financial Statements Release 2017: Strong net sales growth with good profitability development and cash flow

AHLSTROM-MUNKSJÖ FINANCIAL STATEMENTS RELEASE, FEBRUARY 13, 2018 at 07:30 CET

This release is a summary of Ahlstrom-Munksjö’s’ Financial Statements Release 2017. The complete report is attached to this release as a pdf-file. It is also available at www.ahlstrom-munksjo.com.

In this release, the January-December 2017 figures as well as all comparison figures are presented on a pro forma basis to illustrate the financial impact of the merger between Ahlstrom and Munksjö as if it had been completed at the beginning of 2015. Only the October-December 2017, July-September 2017 and April-June 2017 figures are presented according to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). The appendix including audited consolidated financial statements has been prepared according to IFRS standards.

Q4/2017

  • Net sales EUR 547.1 million (EUR 527.5 million), showing a gain of 3.7%. Comparable net sales increased by 7.3% at constant currency rates.

  • EBITDA EUR 52.7 million (EUR 55.4 million), included items affecting comparability (IAC) of EUR -10.4 million (EUR -5.9 million)

  • Comparable EBITDA EUR 63.1 million (EUR 61.3 million), representing 11.5% (11.6%) of net sales

  • Net profit EUR 19.3 million (EUR 13.5 million)

  • Earnings per share EUR 0.20 (EUR 0.14)

  • Comparable EPS excluding merger-related items (PPA) EUR 0.37 (EUR 0.20)

  • Net cash flow from operating activities EUR 77.2 million (EUR 75.6 million)

Q1-Q4/2017

  • Net sales EUR 2,232.6 million (EUR 2,147.9 million), showing a gain of 3.9%. Comparable net sales increased by 4.6% at constant currency rates.

  • EBITDA* EUR 266.6 million (EUR 239.9 million) and included IAC of EUR -23.8 million (EUR -28.8 million)

  • Comparable EBITDA EUR 290.4 million (EUR 268.7 million), representing 13.0% (12.5%) of net sales

  • Net profit* EUR 88.5 million (EUR 49.8 million)

  • Earnings per share* EUR 0.91 (EUR 0.51)

  • Comparable EPS excluding merger-related items (PPA) EUR 1.29 (EUR 0.96)

  • Net cash flow from operating activities EUR 212.9 million (EUR 232.1 million)

Major events

  • The merger of Ahlstrom Corporation into Munksjö Oyj was completed on April 1, 2017

  • Hans Sohlström was appointed President and CEO, effective June 30, 2018, at the latest

Dividend proposal

  • The Board of Directors proposes to the Annual General Meeting that a dividend totaling EUR 0.52 per share, based on the financial statements of 2017, be paid in two installments

Key figures

EUR million Q4/2017 Q4/2016 CHANGE, % 2017 2016 CHANGE, %
Net sales 547.1 527.5 3.7 2,232.6 2,147.9 3.9
EBITDA* 52.7 55.4 -4.9 266.6 239.9 11.1
     EBITDA margin, % 9.6 10.5 11.9 11.2
Comparable EBITDA 63.1 61.3 3.0 290.4 268.7 8.1
     Comparable EBITDA margin, % 11.5 11.6 13.0 12.5
Items affecting comparability included in EBITDA -10.4 -5.9 -23.8 -28.8
Comparable operating result excluding merger-   related items (PPA) 40.3 37.4 7.8 195.2 168.7 15.7
Net profit* 19.3 13.5 42.6 88.5 49.8 77.6
Earnings per share (basic), EUR* 0.20 0.14 43.1 0.91 0.51 78.7
Comparable EPS excluding merger-related items (PPA) 0.37 0.20 85.0 1.29 0.96 34.4
Cash generated from operating activities 77.2 75.6 2.2 212.9 232.1 -8.3
Capital expenditure 40.2 30.8 30.4 89.7 77.7 15.4
Net debt** 375.3 N/A N/A 375.3 N/A N/A
Gearing ratio, %** 36.2 N/A 36.2 N/A
Average number of employees, FTE 5,895 5,995 -1.7 5,903 6,039 -2.3

*Fair valuation of EUR 11 million (EUR 7.6 million after tax) inventory adjustment excluded in cumulative 2017 figures as already included in pro forma 2016 figures

**No comparative balance sheet figures on pro forma basis available

The actual figures for January-December 2017 and for the corresponding comparison periods are presented in the appendix only.

Ahlstrom-Munksjö has adopted the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) guidelines on Alternative Performance Measures to reflect the underlying business performance and improve comparability. These measures should, however, not be considered as a substitute for measures of performance in accordance with IFRS. Alternative performance measures are derived from performance measures reported in accordance with IFRS by adding or deducting items affecting comparability (IAC), or purchase price allocation (PPA,) and they are called “comparable”.

CEO COMMENTS

“Our first year as Ahlstrom-Munksjö was exciting and we made good progress in terms of financial performance and integration. We truly demonstrated our ability to grow throughout the year and achieved a remarkable growth of over seven percent in the fourth quarter at constant currency rates. Our businesses also managed well in keeping our margin intact even as cost increases in some of our key raw materials accelerated. This rapid increase is also reflected in our guidance for 2018 given the time-lag before our price increases to compensate for the increased raw material costs.  

Our Filtration business had a record year, Release Liners posted robust growth and our operations in Brazil made a good improvement. We will continue to be active in pricing to mitigate raw material cost increases, which has in particular impacted our Decor business, and we expect to benefit gradually from merging the coated one-sided papers business into our Food Packaging unit during this year.

We have completed almost all of the integration initiatives in just nine months after the merger. We are also comfortable on delivering the promised annual synergy benefits of above EUR 40 million by the second quarter of 2019. Our performance clearly underlines the strategic rationale behind the combination and I would like to express my warmest thanks to all of our employees and other stakeholders for this achievement.

I will retire later this year, and given that we have together achieved a strong position as a company and a global leader in fiber-based materials, I feel the time is right to pass on the baton to my successor.“

OUTLOOK FOR 2018

Market outlook: Demand for Ahlstrom-Munksjö’s fiber-based products is expected to remain stable at the current good level for most of the product segments and to reflect the seasonal pattern. Selling price increases will continue to be implemented to mitigate cost inflation in raw materials.

EBITDA: Comparable EBITDA in 2018 is expected to be approximately at the previous year’s level (pro forma EUR 290.4 million), or slightly below. In the first-half of 2018, comparable EBITDA is expected to be lower than in the comparison period and to gain momentum in the second half of the year.

Capital expenditure: The cash flow effect of current capital expenditure of fixed assets as well as strategic investments is expected to be higher than in 2017 (EUR 89.7 million). The strategic growth and profitability enhancement investments include the previously announced projects at Arches, Madisonville and Saint Severin sites.

COMPLETION OF THE MERGER

On April 1, 2017, Ahlstrom Corporation was merged into Munksjö Oyj, and the name of the combined company was changed to Ahlstrom-Munksjö Oyj. The combination created a global leader in innovative and sustainable fiber-based materials with combined pro forma net sales of approximately EUR 2.15 billion (2016), around 6,000 employees, and 41 production and converting facilities in 14 countries. A total of 45,376,992 new shares in Ahlstrom-Munksjö were issued to Ahlstrom shareholders as merger consideration, bringing the total number of shares to 96,438,573. Trading in the new shares started on April 3, 2017.  

Approvals from the Extraordinary General Meetings of Ahlstrom and Munksjö as well as the European Commission were received on January 11, 2017 and March 13, 2017, respectively. In connection with the merger, Ahlstrom and Munksjö distributed funds in the total amount of approximately EUR 46 million, corresponding to EUR 0.49 per share in Ahlstrom and EUR 0.45 per share in Munksjö.

SYNERGIES

Ahlstrom-Munksjö estimates that annual synergies of above EUR 40 million will be gradually realized and fully visible from the second quarter of 2019. The savings comprise mainly lower fixed costs as well as coordination of purchases and production following the merger. The plan also includes further business synergies, such as integrating the former Graphics and Packaging business area into the new Specialties business area, to develop a combined product and service offering.

At the end of the reporting period, the annual synergy achievement run rate was approximately EUR 19.3 million. Of the annual synergy savings arising from the merger, the vast majority are related to lower SG&A costs, and the remainder are related to reduced costs of goods sold and improved operational efficiency, as well as planned revenue synergies. The financial result for the fourth-quarter 2017 includes realized synergies of approximately EUR 4.1 million.

Non-recurring costs to achieve the synergy savings amounted to EUR 19.1 million at the end of the reporting period, of which EUR 8.2 million was booked in the fourth-quarter of 2017. The full cost related to the achievement of synergies within two years from the merger is about EUR 30 million. The cash flow effect was EUR -3.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2017 and EUR -10.9 million for the full-year 2017.

FINANCIAL TARGETS

The company’s Board of Directors has set the following long-term financial targets:

  • EBITDA margin above 14% over a business cycle

  • Net gearing below 100%

  • A stable and annually increasing dividend, to be paid bi-annually

PROPOSAL FOR THE DISTRIBUTION OF PROFIT

The distributable funds on the balance sheet of Ahlstrom-Munksjö Oyj as of December 31, 2017 amounted to EUR 639,383,957.56.

The Board of Directors proposes that the Annual General Meeting resolves, based on the financial statements of the company for 2017, on the dividend payment in the amount of EUR 0.52 per share.

The dividend will be paid in two instalments. The first instalment of EUR 0.26 per share will be paid to a shareholder who on the record date of the payment, March 23, 2018, is registered in the shareholders’ register of the company maintained by Euroclear Finland Ltd or in the register of shareholders maintained by Euroclear Sweden AB. The payment date proposed by the Board for this instalment is April 3, 2018.

The second instalment of EUR 0.26 per share will be paid in September 2018 to a shareholder who on the record date of the payment is registered in the shareholders’ register of the company maintained by Euroclear Finland Ltd or in the register of shareholders maintained by Euroclear Sweden AB, which, together with the payment date, will be resolved by the Board of Directors in its meeting scheduled for September 10, 2018. The record date of the payment would be September 12, 2018 and the payment date September 19, 2018, at the latest.

In addition, the Board of Directors proposes that EUR 100,000 will be reserved for donations at the discretion of the Board.

SHORT-TERM RISKS

Ahlstrom-Munksjö is exposed to changing market conditions and uncertainty caused by both macroeconomic and industry related events and is exposed to risks that may arise from its operations, changes in the business environment, developments in the global economy or potential changes in the legislative framework. The materialization of such risks could have a material adverse effect on the company’s operations, earnings and financial position.

The company’s significant risks and uncertainty factors mainly consist of developments in demand for and prices of sold products, the cost and availability of significant raw materials, financial risks, as well as other business factors including developments in the financial markets. The cost of key raw materials such as pulp and titanium dioxide has continued to increase and the company’s financial performance may be impacted by its ability to raise selling prices and the timing of such rises to mitigate cost inflation.

Ahlstrom-Munksjö’s key financial risks include interest rate and currency risks, liquidity risk and credit risk. The Group has exposure to tax risks due to potential changes in tax laws or regulations or their application, or as a result of on-going or future tax audits or claims.

The company has operations in many countries, and sometimes disputes cannot be avoided in daily operations. The company is sometimes involved in legal actions, disputes, claims for damages and other procedures. The result of these cannot be predicted, but taking into account all available information to date, the impact is not expected to have a significant impact on the financial position of the company.

More information about risks and uncertainty factors related to Ahlstrom-Munksjö’s business and the company’s risk management is available at www.ahlstrom-munksjo.com.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Jan Åström, President and CEO, tel. +46 10 250 1001
Pia Aaltonen-Forsell, CFO, tel. +46 10 250 1029
Juho Erkheikki, Investor Relations Manager, tel. +358 (0)10 888 4731

WEBCAST AND CONFERENCE CALL

A combined news conference, call and live webcast will be arranged on the publishing day, February 13, 2018, at 10:00 a.m. CET (11:00 a.m. EET) at Ahlstrom-Munksjö’s Helsinki office, meeting room Antti (Alvar Aallon katu 3 C). The report will be presented in English by President and CEO Jan Åström and CFO Pia Aaltonen-Forsell.

WEBCAST AND CONFERENCE CALL INFORMATION

The combined webcast and teleconference can be viewed at:

http://qsb.webcast.fi/a/ahlstrommunksjo/ahlstrommunksjo_2018_0213_q4/

Finnish callers: +358 (0)9 7479 0361
Swedish callers: +46 (0)8 5033 6574
UK callers: +44 (0) 330 336 9105

Conference ID: 8057006

To join the conference call, participants are requested to dial one of the numbers above 5-10 minutes prior to the start of the event. An on-demand version of the conference call will be available on Ahlstrom-Munksjö’s website later the same day.

FINANCIAL REPORTS IN 2018

  • Interim report January-March 2018                          April 24, 2018

  • Half-year report January-June 2018                          July 26, 2018

  • Interim report January-September 2018                  October 30, 2018

The annual report including financial statements 2017 and report of operations will be published on February 28, 2018, at the latest. The Annual General Meeting of Shareholders (AGM) will be held on March 21, 2018.

Ahlstrom-Munksjö in brief
Ahlstrom-Munksjö is a global leader in fiber-based materials, supplying innovative and sustainable solutions to customers worldwide. Our offerings include decor paper, filter media, release liners, abrasive backings, nonwovens, electrotechnical paper, glass fiber materials, food packaging and labeling, tape, medical fiber materials and solutions for diagnostics. Combined annual net sales are about EUR 2.2 billion and we employ 6,000 people. The Ahlstrom-Munksjö share is listed on the Nasdaq Helsinki and Stockholm. Read more at www.ahlstrom-munksjo.com.

About Us

Ahlstrom-Munksjö is a global leader in fiber-based materials, supplying innovative and sustainable solutions to customers worldwide. Our offerings include decor paper, filter media, release liners, abrasive backings, nonwovens, electrotechnical paper, glass fiber materials, food packaging and labeling, tape, medical fiber materials and solutions for diagnostics. Combined annual net sales are about EUR 2.15 billion and we employ 6,200 people. The Ahlstrom-Munksjö share is listed on the Nasdaq Helsinki and Stockholm. The company was formed on April 1, 2017 through the merger of Ahlstrom Corporation and Munksjö Oyj. Read more at www.ahlstrom-munksjo.com.