Ahlstrom January-June 2015 interim report: Continued operating profit margin improvement driven by better pricing and product mix

Ahlstrom Corporation STOCK EXCHANGE RELEASE August 6, 2015 at 8.30

This is a summary of the January-June 2015 interim report. The complete report with tables is attached to this release and available at www.ahlstrom.com

Ahlstrom January-June 2015 interim report

Continued operating profit margin improvement driven by better pricing and product mix

April-June 2015 compared with April-June 2014

  • Net sales EUR 281.1 million (EUR 253.0 million), showing an increase of 11.1%.Comparable net sales at constant currencies remained flat.
  • Operating profit EUR 15.7 million (EUR 9.6 million).
  • Operating profit excluding non-recurring items EUR 16.8 million (EUR 13.4 million).
  • Operating profit margin excluding non-recurring items 6.0% (5.3%), the seventh consecutive quarter of year-on-year improvement.
  • Profit before taxes EUR 20.8 million (EUR -0.4 million), including a EUR 11.1 million capital gain booked from the sale of Munksjö Oyj shares.
  • Earnings per share EUR 0.29 (EUR -0.07).
  • Revolving credit facility refinanced in June.
  • Outlook for 2015 revised.   

January-June 2015 compared with January-June 2014

  • Net sales EUR 552.9 million (EUR 502.2 million), showing an increase of 10.1%.
  • Operating profit EUR 28.4 million (EUR 14.0 million).
  • Operating profit excluding non-recurring items EUR 28.8 million (EUR 20.6 million).
  • Operating profit margin excluding non-recurring items 5.2% (4.1%).
  • Profit before taxes EUR 34.6 million (EUR 4.8 million), including a EUR 17.1 million capital gain booked from the sale of Munksjö Oyj shares.
  • Earnings per share EUR 0.46 (EUR -0.02).

Marco Levi, President & CEO

"We had a record quarter and achieved the highest operating profit margin in the current structure of the company. This was primarily driven by our efforts to improve commercial operations through enhanced pricing and product mix management. The quarter was also characterized by lower demand in some of our main markets and continued increase in net sales driven by currencies.

The Filtration business area improved profits despite the slowdown in its markets, and the Food business continued on its path of steady improvement. The Building and Energy business area also reported a welcome increase in sales, while profitability still suffered from low demand for wallcovering products as well as adverse currency effects. 

We are moving ahead with the key priorities of our roadmap - commercial excellence, go-to-market process, simplification and building up the new Ahlstrom - to improve performance. While we have made progress towards our long-term financial targets, we still have a way to go to uncover the full competitive potential of this company." 

Outlook for 2015 revised:

Ahlstrom revises its outlook for net sales and operating profit margin excluding non-recurring items in 2015.

New outlook:

Ahlstrom expects net sales in 2015 to be in the range of EUR 1,025-1,125 million. The operating profit margin excluding non-recurring items is expected to be 3.85-4.5% of net sales.

Previous outlook:

Ahlstrom expects net sales in 2015 to be in the range of EUR 1,000-1,100 million. The operating profit margin excluding non-recurring items is expected to be 3.5-5% of net sales.  

Key figures

EUR million Q2/2015 Q2/2014 Change, % Q1-Q2/2015 Q1-Q2/2014 Change, %
Net sales 281.1 253.0 11.1 552.9 502.2 10.1
EBITDA excl. NRI 31.5 25.6 23.1 57.7 44.5 29.7
  % of net sales 11.2 10.1   10.4 8.9  
Operating profit 15.7 9.6 63.6 28.4 14.0 102.8
  % of net sales 5.6 3.8   5.1 2.8  
Operating profit excl. NRI 16.8 13.4 25.1 28.8 20.6 39.5
  % of net sales 6.0 5.3   5.2 4.1  
Profit / Loss before taxes 20.8 -0.4 N/A 34.6 4.8 N/A
Profit / Loss for the period 15.8 -2.2 N/A 24.6 0.9 N/A
Earnings per share 0.29 -0.07 N/A 0.46 -0.02 N/A
Return on capital employed, % 10.0 5.4   9.3 4.4  
Net cash flow from operative activities * 14.0 14.2 -1.6 12.5 8.2 53.0
Capital expenditure 5.1 10.3 -51.0 8.1 19.3 -58.1
Interest-bearing net liabilities * 233.8 283.3 -17.5 233.8 283.3 -17.5
Gearing ratio, % * 69.3 85.8   69.3 85.8    
Equity ratio, % * 35.9 33.8   35.9 33.8    
Number of personnel, at the end of period 3,413 3,518 -3.0 3,413 3,518 -3.0  

EBITDA = earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization
NRI = non-recurring item
* Including discontinued operations.

Short-term risks

Uncertainty related to the global economic growth poses risks to Ahlstrom's financial performance. Slower-than-anticipated growth may lead to lower sales volumes and force the company to initiate more market-related shutdowns at plants, which could affect profitability.

Further swings in foreign currency exchange rates may lead to fluctuations in net sales and profitability. Combined with the uncertainty related to global economic growth and increased volatility in our main markets, it is more challenging to forecast future developments.

Ahlstrom's main raw materials are wood pulp, chemicals, and synthetic fibers. The prices of these key raw materials are volatile, and possible increases can affect the company's profitability depending on its ability to mitigate the risk.

In recent years, Ahlstrom has undertaken investment projects, such as the wallcoverings production line in Binzhou, China, that are in a start-up phase. The company's financial results may be negatively affected by the performance of the new production lines.

The general risks facing Ahlstrom's business operations are described in greater detail on the company website at www.ahlstrom.com and in the report by the Board of Directors in the company's Annual Report for 2014. The risk management process is also described in the Corporate Governance Statement, also available on the company's website.

This report contains certain forward-looking statements that reflect the present views of the company's management. The statements contain uncertainties and risks and are thus subject to changes in the general economic situation and in the company's business.

Disclosure procedure

Ahlstrom publishes its January-June 2015 interim report enclosed to this stock exchange release. The report is attached to this release in pdf format and is also available on the company's web site at www.ahlstrom.com.

Additional information

Marco Levi, President & CEO, tel. +358 (0)10 888 4700
Sakari Ahdekivi, CFO, tel. +358 (0)10 888 4768

Ahlstrom's President & CEO Marco Levi and CFO Sakari Ahdekivi will present the report at an analyst and press conference in Helsinki on Thursday, August 6 at 11:00 a.m. Finnish time (CET +1). The event will take place at Ahlstrom's head office, Alvar Aallon katu 3 C, second floor, meeting room Antti.

The combined web- and teleconference will be held in English and can be viewed at the following address: http://qsb.webcast.fi/a/ahlstrom/ahlstrom_2015_0806_q2
To participate via telephone, please dial +358 (0)9 2313 9201 in Finland or +44 (0)20 7162 0077 outside Finland a few minutes before the conference begins. The confirmation code is 953920.

An on-demand webcast including slides is available for viewing and listening on the company website for one year after the conference call.

The presentation material will be available at www.ahlstrom.com/en/Investors/Reports-and-presentations/2015/ after the report has been published.

Financial information in 2015

Report Date of publication Silent period
Interim report January-September 2015 Wednesday, October 28 October 1-28

During the silent period, Ahlstrom will not communicate with capital market representatives.

Ahlstrom in brief

Ahlstrom is a high performance fiber-based materials company, partnering with leading businesses around the world to help them stay ahead. We aim to grow with a product offering for clean and healthy environment. Our materials are used in everyday applications such as filters, medical fabrics, life science and diagnostics, wallcoverings and food packaging. In 2014, Ahlstrom's net sales amounted to EUR 1 billion. Our 3,400 employees serve customers in 22 countries. Ahlstrom's share is quoted on the NASDAQ OMX Helsinki. More information available at www.ahlstrom.com.