Ahlstrom-Munksjö Oyj Financial Statements Release 2018: Successful execution of growth strategy

AHLSTROM-MUNKSJÖ OYJ FINANCIAL STATEMENTS RELEASE, FEBRUARY 14, 2019 at 08:30

This release is a summary of Ahlstrom-Munksjö’s Financial Statements Release 2018. The complete report is attached to this release as a pdf-file. It is also available at www.ahlstrom-munksjo.com.

HIGHLIGHTS DURING THE REPORTING PERIOD

  • Actual Q4/2018 comparable EBITDA grew by 14.3% to EUR 72.1 million (EUR 63.1 million) representing 10.1% (11.5%) of net sales

  • Completion of the acquisitions of Expera Specialty Solutions and the Caieiras specialty paper mill have significantly strengthened our presence in the Americas

    • Annual business synergies of at least EUR 10 million identified, in addition to the earlier communicated cost synergies of EUR 8 million from Expera and EUR 6 million from Caieiras.

    • Further business synergies expected in the next few years

  • A rights issue worth about EUR 150 million was successfully completed

Q4/2018 PRO FORMA VS Q4/2017 PRO FORMA

  • Net sales EUR 734.8 million (EUR 718.9 million), an increase of 2.2%.

  • Comparable EBITDA EUR 71.4 million (EUR 80.5 million), representing 9.7% (11.2%) of net sales

  • Further improvement in gross margin for products. Profitability impacted by lower sales volumes due to stronger-than-usual seasonal variations and operational issues at two sites where corrective actions are on-going.

  • Net profit/loss EUR -10.3 million (EUR 27.6 million), significantly impacted by items affecting comparability related to the acquisitions and cost saving initiatives

  • Earnings per share EUR -0.09 (EUR 0.24)

  • Comparable EPS excluding depreciation and amortization arising from PPA EUR 0.18 (EUR 0.38)

2018 PRO FORMA VS 2017 PROFORMA

  • Net sales EUR 2,996.9 million (EUR 2,961.5 million), an increase of 1.2%. In constant currency growth was 5.1%.

  • Comparable EBITDA EUR 329.9 million (EUR 366.3 million), representing 11.0% (12.4%) of net sales

  • Successful compensation of higher variable costs by increased selling prices. Profitability impacted mainly by lower sales volumes, partly due to the paper machine closure at the Stenay plant and operational issues at the Aspa pulp mill.  

  • Net profit EUR 63.2 million (EUR 41.9 million), significantly impacted by items affecting comparability related to the acquisitions and cost saving initiatives

  • Earnings per share EUR 0.54 (EUR 0.36)

  • Comparable EPS excluding depreciation and amortization arising from PPA EUR 1.15 (EUR 1.32)

DIVIDEND PROPOSAL

  • The Board of Directors proposes that a dividend totaling EUR 0.52 per share, be paid in two installments. This corresponds to an increase of about 20% when taking into account the increase in the number of total shares as a result of the rights issue completed in December.

In this financial statements release 2018, the figures for January-December 2018, October-December 2018 and the comparison figures are presented on a pro forma basis to illustrate the financial impact of the acquisition of Expera Specialty Solutions, the acquisition of MD Papéis Caieiras and the merger between Ahlstrom and Munksjö as if they had been completed at the beginning of 2017. Basis for presenting pro forma figures, please see appendix 2. The appendix 1, including consolidated financial statements, has been prepared according to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). The annual figures in this financial statement bulletin are audited.

KEY FIGURES

Actual (IFRS) key figures, EUR million, or as indicated Q4/2018 Q4/2017 Q3/2018 2018 2017
Net sales 712.2 547.1 565.6 2,438.0 1,959.9
Comparable EBITDA 72.1 63.1 71.8 277.7 248.2
Comparable EBITDA margin, % 10.1 11.5 12.7 11.4 12.7
Items affecting comparability in EBITDA -34.5 -10.4 -8.7 -55.1 -38.1
EBITDA 37.5 52.7 63.1 222.6 210.1
Comparable operating result excl. depreciation and amortization arising from PPA * 46.3 40.3 50.1 186.1 166.1
Comparable operating result 34.5 32.6 42.4 151.4 141.7
Comparable operating result margin, % 4.9 6.0 7.5 6.2 7.2
Items affecting comparability in operating result -42.2 -10.4 -8.7 -62.7 -38.1
Operating result -7.7 22.1 33.7 88.7 103.5
Net profit/loss -19.8 22.7 19.4 42.9 66.5
Earnings per share (basic), EUR -0.20 0.23 0.20 0.43 0.78
Comparable EPS excl. depreciation and amortization arising from PPA, EUR * 0.20 0.37 0.33 1.18 1.29
Cash generated from operating activities 30.9 77.2 28.0 91.6 186.5
Depreciation, amortization and impairment 45.2 30.6 29.4 133.9 106.6
Capital expenditure 64.5 40.2 38.5 160.1 84.6
Payment for acquisition of subsidiary, net of cash acquired 608.0 - - 608.0 -
Net debt 971.3 375.3 456.6 971.3 375.3
Gearing ratio, % 83.6 36.2 44.1 83.6 36.2

 

Pro forma key figures, EUR million, or as indicated Q4/2018 Q4/2017 Q3/2018 2018 2017
Net sales 734.8 718.9 745.2 2,996.9 2,961.5
Comparable EBITDA 71.4 80.5 89.4 329.9 366.3
Comparable EBITDA margin, % 9.7 11.2 12.0 11.0 12.4
Items affecting comparability in EBITDA -24.0 -10.5 -4.4 -39.6 -94.0
EBITDA 47.4 70.0 85.0 290.3 272.2
Comparable operating result excl. depreciation and amortization arising from PPA * 45.3 53.0 63.8 225.5 251.7
Comparable operating result 32.9 40.5 51.6 176.6 200.4
Comparable operating result margin, % 4.5 5.6 6.9 5.9 6.8
Items affecting comparability in operating result -31.7 -10.5 -4.4 -47.3 -94.0
Operating result 1.3 30.0 47.2 129.4 106.4
Net profit/loss -10.3 27.6 25.7 63.2 41.9
Earnings per share (basic), EUR -0.09 0.24 0.22 0.54 0.36
Comparable EPS excl. depreciation and amortization arising from PPA, EUR * 0.18 0.38 0.33 1.15 1.32
Depreciation, amortization and impairment 46.2 40.0 37.8 161.0 165.9
Capital expenditure 65.9 51.3 44.6 176.3 124.7

*Depreciation and amortization arising from PPA (purchase price allocation) comprise depreciation and amortization charges from fair value adjustments relating to the business combinations starting from 2013.                                                      

CEO COMMENTS

Ahlstrom-Munksjö has adopted the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) guidelines on Alternative Performance Measures (APMs) 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”. More details on APMs and key figures are available in the appendix 2.

We made good progress towards our strategic targets in 2018. The acquisitions of Expera and Caieiras were important milestones in the strategic transformation towards global leadership in our selected product categories and we are very pleased with the acquisitions. Critical size in the value chain enables operations on a global scale and a readiness to better meet our customer needs. The acquisition of Expera tripled our net sales in the U.S. and provided a platform for growth, while Caieiras significantly strengthened our South American operations. Our pro forma net sales reached EUR 3 billion and comparable EBITDA of EUR 330 million.

The acquisitions also provide us timely cost synergies now that we have achieved most of the benefits related to the merger of Ahlstrom and Munksjö. Hence, our cost competitiveness will improve. In addition, we have identified significant business synergy potential, particularly in the areas of cross selling, technology sharing and production optimization, which will underpin our performance over the next few years.

CHALLENGING QUARTER

Our financial performance in the fourth quarter of last year was unsatisfactory. Our gross margin for products improved each quarter during the year, however, profitability was impacted by lower delivery volumes. This was due to stronger-than-usual seasonal variations, especially in December, as well as to the planned closure of a paper machine at the Stenay plant in France and operational issues at the Aspa pulp mill. Customers reacted to the increased uncertainty about the economic outlook. The decline in pulp prices in December did not have an impact on the result, due to the usual time-lag. Our cash flow was impacted by transaction and integration related costs, and a lower result.

TARGETED IMPROVEMENT MEASURES PROCEEDING

To improve competitiveness in the coated one-sided product segment within the Food Packaging business we proceed with the plan to close one paper machine in Stenay, France and to rationalize our product offering. We regret the impact on our personnel but we have to adapt to the changing market environment and align to our strategy of niche orientation for customized solutions.

In the Decor business we have successfully restored gross margin for products and we are progressing with our comprehensive plan to enhance efficiency and quality leadership. In the Beverage & Casing business, the new production line investment to improve capacity, product capability and efficiency is proceeding.

CONFIDENCE FOR THE FUTURE

During the year we have completed investments which will improve customer value through product quality and expand our capacity in our Abrasive, Filtration and Food Packaging businesses. We have also decided on several new investments that will improve efficiency and environmental performance as well as expand and improve product quality and capacity. We expect gradual contribution from these investments in the coming years.

Despite the unsatisfactory finish to the year and the uncertainty regarding the global economic outlook. I have confidence for the years to come. We expect to reap the benefits of our acquisitions and investments, as well as synergy and cost saving initiatives. In 2019 we will focus on integration and delivering on the promised synergies as well as on cash flow. Our gross margin for products has increased and we proceed with measures to further improve our competitiveness as we advance on our growth journey.

OUTLOOK FOR 2019

Ahlstrom-Munksjö’s pro forma comparable EBITDA reached EUR 330 million in 2018. As we entered 2019, customers have reacted to signs of a slowing economic outlook. Although demand growth has slowed somewhat in certain product segments, and customers have reduced inventories market fundamentals remain relatively solid. Ahlstrom-Munksjö will continue its efforts to improve performance and competitiveness. The gross margin for products increased during the course of 2018 and the targeted synergy benefits and cost reduction measures are expected to contribute positively to earnings in 2019.

PROPOSAL FOR THE DISTRIBUTION OF PROFIT

The distributable funds on the balance sheet of Ahlstrom-Munksjö Oyj as of December 31, 2018 amounted to EUR 777,405,417.67.

The Board of Directors proposes that the Annual General Meeting resolves, based on the financial statements of the company for 2018, 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 29, 2019, 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 5, 2019.

The second instalment of EUR 0.26 per share will be paid in October 2019 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 25, 2019. The record date of the payment would be September 27, 2019 and the payment date October 4, 2019, 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 stayed at a high level and the company’s financial performance may be impacted by its ability to raise selling prices and the timing of possible raw material price rises to mitigate cost inflation. On-going trade disputes and the outcome of the Brexit increases uncertainty in the global economic outlook and this may have an effect on Ahlstrom-Munksjö’s markets.

Ahlstrom-Munksjö has recently acquired Expera and Caieiras and it may not be able to realize some or any of the anticipated benefits from those acquisitions. In addition, the company may not be able to successfully integrate the acquired operations into its existing businesses.

The company’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. 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Hans Sohlström, President and CEO, tel. +358 10 888 2520
Pia Aaltonen-Forsell, CFO, tel. +46 10 250 1029
Johan Lindh, Head of Investor Relations, + 358 10 888 4994
Juho Erkheikki, Investor Relations Manager, tel. +358 10 888 4731

WEBCAST AND CONFERENCE CALL

A combined news conference, call and live webcast will be arranged on the publishing day, February 14, 2019, at 11:00 a.m. EET (10:00 a.m. CET) at Ahlstrom-Munksjö’s head office in Helsinki (Alvar Aallon katu 3 C, meeting room Antti). The report will be presented in English by President and CEO Hans Sohlström.

WEBCAST AND CONFERENCE CALL INFORMATION

The combined webcast and teleconference can be viewed at: https://qsb.webcast.fi/a/ahlstrommunksjo/ahlstrommunksjo_2019_0214_q4/

Finland: +358 (0)9 7479 0360
Sweden: +46 (0)8 5033 6573
UK: +44 (0)330 336 9104

Conference ID: 159041

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. By dialing in to the conference call, the participant agrees that personal information such as name and company name will be collected. The conference call will be recorded.

Ahlstrom-Munksjö in brief

Ahlstrom-Munksjö is a global leader in fiber-based materials, supplying innovative and sustainable solutions to its customers. Our mission is to expand the role of fiber-based solutions for sustainable every day life. Our offering include filter materials, release liners, food and beverage processing materials, decor papers, abrasive and tape backings, electrotechnical paper, glass fiber materials, medical fiber materials and solutions for diagnostics as well as a range of specialty papers for industrial and consumer end-uses. Our annual net sales is about EUR 3 billion and we employ some 8,000 people. The Ahlstrom-Munksjö share is listed on the Nasdaq Helsinki and Stockholm.  

Read more at www.ahlstrom-munksjo.com.

About Us

Ahlstrom-Munksjö in brief Ahlstrom-Munksjö is a global leader in fiber-based materials, supplying innovative and sustainable solutions to its customers. Our mission is to expand the role of fiber-based solutions for sustainable every day life. Our offering includes filter materials, release liners, food and beverage processing materials, decor papers, abrasive and tape backings, electrotechnical paper, glass fiber materials, medical fiber materials and solutions for diagnostics as well as a range of specialty papers for industrial and consumer end-uses. Our annual net sales is about EUR 3 billion and we employ some 8,000 people. The Ahlstrom-Munksjö share is listed on the Nasdaq Helsinki and Stockholm. Read more at www.ahlstrom-munksjo.com.