Metsä Board’s comparable operating result in January–June 2021 was EUR 191 million

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Metsä Board Corporation Half-year financial report 28 July 2021 at noon 12:00 EEST

January–June 2021 (compared with 1–6/2020)

• Sales were EUR 1,049.5 million (945.2).

• Comparable operating result was EUR 191.3 million (94.2) or 18.2% (10.0) of sales. Operating result was EUR 185.6 million (100.3).

• Comparable earnings per share were EUR 0.42 (0.19), and earnings per share were EUR 0.41 (0.21).

• Comparable return on capital employed was 19.3% (10.7).

• Net cash flow from operations was EUR 150.7 mil-lion (152.3).

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. At the same time, the pandemic has weakened demand for the packaging materials of luxury items and graphic end uses.

While no chains of coronavirus transmissions have occurred, the incidence of individual cases of infection has increased as the pandemic has progressed. During the summer, the number of infections has declined in several of Metsä Board’s operating units. 

Metsä Board’s financial position is 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 substantial precautionary measures aiming to ensure the health of employees and the continuity of business operations and prevent the virus from spreading. Despite the precautionary measures, a prolonged pandemic could lead to disruptions in production and/or the supply chain.

Events in April–June 2021

• Demand for Metsä Board’s fresh fibre paperboards remained strong in all market areas important for the company. The delivery volumes of paperboards were again at a record high.

• In addition to strong paperboard sales, profitability was improved by the rapidly rising average prices of market pulp. 

• The fire that broke out on 18 June 2021 on the chip conveyor of the Husum pulp mill closed Husum’s pulp production for four weeks. Paperboard production was run at lower-than-normal capacity during the pulp mill’s shutdown.

• Metsä Board achieved again the highest level, Platinum, in EcoVadis’s sustainability and social responsibility evaluation. Metsä Board is among the top 1% in the category of paper, paperboard and packaging manufacturers. 

• Henri Sederholm was appointed Metsä Board’s CFO as of 1 May 2021, while Jussi Noponen was appointed SVP, Sales and Supply Chain. Sari Pajari-Sederholm, previously Metsä Board’s SVP, Sales and Marketing, was appointed Metsä Group’s EVP, Strategy.

Events after the review period

Metsä Board has made an investment decision on 27 July 2021 to increase the annual folding boxboard capacity by 200,000 tonnes at its Husum integrated mill in Sweden. The investment value is approximately EUR 210 million and it will be financed with current cash funds and 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, to be achieved in full in 2026.

Result guidance for July–September 2021

Metsä Board’s comparable operating result in July–September 2021 is expected to be roughly at the same level as in April–June 2021 (EUR 102.5 million).

Near-term outlook

The duration of the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the world economy and on Metsä Board’s business operations continue to be difficult to estimate.

Demand for paperboards continues to be strong in the company's main market areas in Europe and North America, and the paperboard order books are at a high level.

The delivery volumes of Metsä Board’s paperboards in July–September are expected to decline from the record high delivery volumes in April–June and January–March. The decline is partly due to the fire of the Husum pulp  mill’s chip conveyor in June, which resulted in production losses of some 26,000 tonnes in paperboard and 55,000 tonnes in pulp. Market pulp deliveries are also expected to decline.

The average prices of folding boxboard and white kraftliners in local currencies are expected to improve in July–September, compared to the average prices in April–June.

After the rapid rise during the early part of the year, market pulp prices have stabilised in Europe and taken a downward turn in China. Demand for market pulp in China has reduced due both to normal seasonal variation and the production curtailments of some paper paperboard producers. In Europe, the demand situation has remained good. Profitability of the associated company Metsä Fibre is also supported by the strong sawn timber business. The container shortage, particularly between Europe and Asia, continues and affects the deliveries of market pulp producers.

More planned annual maintenance shutdowns of mills are set to take place in July–September than in April–June. 

The cost inflation will continue during the second half of the year. Metsä Board estimates that the cost inflation for the full year of 2021 will be 3–4%, compared to 2020.

Exchange rate fluctuations in July–September 2021, accounting for the effect of hedges, will have a negative impact on the operating result compared to April–June 2021, and a clearly negative impact on the operating result compared to July–September 2020.



“The year 2021 has been very good for Metsä Board. Demand for our fresh fibre paperboards has been strong in all our products and in all our main markets. Sales prices have risen during the first half of the year and we see the same trend continuing in the third quarter. The order books for paperboards remain at an exceptionally high level, which also supports the outlook for the rest of the year.

The delivery volumes of folding boxboard and white kraftliners were again record high in April–June, totalling 514,000 tonnes. Our comparable operating result was excellent, EUR 102.5 million (4–6/2020: EUR 60.5 million). Cash flow during the second quarter was also strong, EUR 134 million, and at the end of the period we were nearly free of net debt.

Our comparable operating result in January–June 2021 was EUR 191.3 million (1–6/2020: 94.2). Our profitability improved due to the rapid rise in market pulp prices and record-high paperboard volumes. The comparison period was weakened by the paper industry strike in Finland, which had an approximately EUR 20 million negative impact on the result.

Cost inflation has accelerated during the year, raising the price level of energy and some chemicals, among other things. Logistics costs have also increased and shortage of containers in the traffic between Europe and Asia continues to affect deliveries, particularly in market pulp.

The fire which broke out on the chip conveyor of the Husum pulp mill in late June resulted in significant production losses for us, in both market pulp and paperboards. This will have an impact on third quarter sales. The damage caused by the fire has been repaired, and Husum’s paperboard and market pulp production are now running at normal capacity.

Our strong financial position, combined with the growing demand for sustainably produced packaging materials that supports the circular economy, provides us with an excellent starting point for growing and developing our paperboard business. After the review period, we made an investment decision to increase our folding boxboard capacity by 200,000 tonnes at our Husum mill in Sweden. The investment will bring to market the additional capacity that customers want and strengthens our position as Europe’s leading producer of folding boxboard. In addition, we have earlier launched a development programme for the Kemi paperboard mill, which will increase the annual production capacity of white kraftliners by 40,000 tonnes and significantly improve the mill’s water and energy use. 

In May, we launched a new 360 Service approach, which will benefit our customers throughout the packaging value chain – from recyclability to a brand’s impact as well as the efficiency of production and the supply chain, and the reduction of environmental impacts. The virtual customer workshops held by our Excellence Centre continued, focusing, among other things, on testing pharmaceutical packaging under extreme conditions.

During the review period, we again achieved the highest level, Platinum, in EcoVadis’s sustainability and social responsibility evaluation. This puts us among the top 1% in the category of paper, paperboard and packaging manufacturers. Our ambition is to be a forerunner in sustainability, and we aim for entirely fossil free production and products by 2030.”


Key figures

2021 Q2

2020 Q2 2021 Q1 2021 Q1–Q2 2020 Q1–Q2 2020 Q1–Q4
Sales, EUR million 555.8 473.1 493.7 1,049.5 945.2 1,889.5
EBITDA, EUR million 126.3 92.6 105.6 231.9 151.9 321.8
  comparable, EUR million 125.2 86.6 112.5 237.6 145.9 315.8
EBITDA, % of sales 22.7 19.6 21.4 22.1 16.1 17.0
  comparable, % of sales 22.5 18.3 22.8 22.6 15.4 16.7
Operating result, EUR million 103.7 66.5 82.0 185.6 100.3 227.3
  comparable, EUR million 102.5 60.5 88.8 191.3 94.2 221.2
Operating result, % of sales 18.6 14.1 16.6 17.7 10.6 12.0
  comparable, % of sales 18.4 12.8 18.0 18.2 10.0 11.7
Result before taxes, EUR million 99.8 63.9 78.9 178.7 92.7 212.3
  comparable, EUR million 98.7 57.8 85.7 184.4 86.7 206.3
Result for the period, EUR million 85.9 51.7 64.2 150.1 73.8 170.1
  comparable, EUR million 84.9 46.9 71.1 156.0 69.0 165.3
Earnings per share, EUR 0.23 0.15 0.18 0.41 0.21 0.48
  comparable, EUR 0.22 0.13 0.20 0.42 0.19 0.46
Return on equity, % 21.1 16.0 17.3 19.6 11.3 12.5
  comparable, % 20.8 14.5 19.2 20.4 10.6 12.1
Return on capital employed, % 19.9 15.3 16.9 18.7 11.4 12.6
  comparable, % 19.7 13.9 18.3 19.3 10.7 12.2
Equity ratio, % 63 58 60 63 58 60
Net gearing, % 0 24 0 0 24 17
Interest-bearing net liabilities/comparable EBITDA 0.0 1.1 0.0 0.0 1.1 0.7
Shareholders’ equity per share, EUR 4.36 3.57 4.09 4.36 3.57 3.89
Interest-bearing net liabilities, EUR million 3.7 305.5 -6.6 3.7 305.5 235.5
Total investment, EUR million 63.4 43.3 35.0 98.3 73.1 166.4
Net cash flow from operations, EUR million 134.0 72.3 16.8 150.7 152.3 307.7
Personnel 2,623 2,662 2,390 2,623 2,662 2,370


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 in English 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 81500946#.    

Metsä Board 

Metsä Board is a leading European producer of premium fresh fibre paperboards. We focus on lightweight and high-quality folding boxboards, food service boards and white kraftliners. The pure fresh fibres we use in our products are a renewable resource, traceable to origin in sustainably managed northern forests. We are a forerunner in sustainability, and  we aim for completely fossil free mills and raw materials by 2030. 

Together with our customers we develop innovative packaging solutions to create better consumer experiences with less environmental impact. In 2020, our sales totalled EUR 1.9 billion, and we have about 2,400 employees. Metsä Board, part of Metsä Group, is listed on the Nasdaq Helsinki

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