Ahlstrom-Munksjö interim Report January-September 2020: SOLID RESULT AND CASH FLOW

AHLSTROM-MUNKSJÖ OYJ INTERIM REPORT RELEASE October 28,2020 at 08:30 EET

This release is a summary of Ahlstrom-Munksjö’s interim report January-September 2020. 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

  • Solid comparable EBITDA and increased margin, sales volumes recovered from a low level in the previous quarter
  • Comparable EBITDA and sales volumes remained below last year’s level
  • Strong recovery in demand for transportation and furniture related products, while demand remained weak for industrial products 
  • Solid cash flow and financial position further strengthened 
  • Launch of lead acid battery product portfolio under the Ahlstrom-Munksjö FortiCell range of fiber-based solutions for energy storage applications
  • World-class Net Promoter Score achieved in an external customer survey
  • Recommended public tender offer for all Ahlstrom-Munksjö shares
  • Comparable EBITDA in 2020 is expected to be in the range of EUR 315-335 million (EUR 313 million in 2019)

Q3/2020 compared with Q3/2019

  • Net sales decreased by 8.0% to EUR 654.5 million (711.3), mainly due an adverse currency effect and lower average selling prices
  • Comparable EBITDA decreased to EUR 78.9 million (83.6), representing 12.1% (11.7) of net sales, impacted by scheduled maintenance shutdowns
  • Operating result of EUR 32.9 million (34.3)
  • Net result EUR 15.5 million (12.0)
  • Earnings per share (basic) EUR 0.13 (0.10)
  • Comparable EPS excluding depreciation and amortization arising from PPA EUR 0.24 (EUR 0.22)

Q1-Q3/2020 compared with Q1-Q3/2019

  • Net sales decreased by 9.9% to EUR 1,994.1 million (2,214.1), mainly due to lower average selling prices and volumes as well as an adverse currency effect   
  • Comparable EBITDA increased to EUR 244.7 million (242.4), representing 12.3% (10.9) of net sales, driven by lower variable costs, which more than offset lower selling prices and sales volumes
  • Operating result of EUR 132.5 million (87.2), including a capital gain of EUR 32.0 million from the sale of the fine art paper business
  • Net result EUR 71.2 million (30.9)
  • Earnings per share (basic) EUR 0.59 (0.26)
  • Comparable EPS excluding depreciation and amortization arising from PPA EUR 0.72 (0.68)
  • Net debt decreased to EUR 804.2 million (885.0 in Q4/2019), supported by the sale of the fine art paper business

PPA = purchase price allocation

KEY FIGURES

Key figures Q3 Q3 Q2 Q1-Q3 Q1-Q3 Q1-Q4
EUR million, or as indicated 2020 2019 2020 2020 2019 2019
Net sales 654.5  711.3  621.5  1,994.1  2,214.1  2,915.3 
Comparable EBITDA 78.9  83.6  74.0  244.7  242.4  312.9 
Comparable EBITDA margin, % 12.1  11.7  11.9  12.3  10.9  10.7 
EBITDA 74.4  77.8  69.1  264.0  216.1  279.4 
Comparable operating result 37.5  40.1  31.8  118.4  113.5  139.0 
Operating result 32.9  34.3  25.8  132.5  87.2  103.2 
Net result 15.5  12.0  9.0  71.2  30.9  32.8 
Earnings per share (basic), EUR 0.13  0.10  0.07  0.59  0.26  0.27 
Comparable earnings per share (basic), EUR 0.16  0.14  0.10  0.47  0.43  0.50 
Comparable EPS excl. depreciation and amortization arising from PPA, EUR * 0.24  0.22  0.18  0.72  0.68  0.84 
Return on equity (ROE), rolling 12 months, % 6.2  1.0  5.9  6.2  1.0  2.9 
Comparable ROE, rolling 12 months, % 5.6  5.4  5.4  5.6  5.4  5.2 
Return on capital employed (ROCE), rolling 12 months, % 6.4  3.4  6.4  6.4  3.4  4.4 
Comparable ROCE, rolling 12 months, % 6.2  6.2  6.3  6.2  6.2  5.9 
Net cash from operating activities 104.3  125.4  8.5  124.6  218.4  286.7 
Capital expenditure 25.5  50.6  24.4  76.2  124.8  161.1 
Net debt 804.2  981.7  878.7  804.2  981.7  885.0 
Gearing ratio, % 68.9  85.4  74.3  68.9  85.4  71.8 

m PPA (purchase price allocation) comprise depreciation and amortization charges from fair value adjustments relating to the business combinations

*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

I’m pleased with our financial performance in the third quarter, and in particular, with our agile way of responding to the recovery in customer activity. Our comparable EBITDA increased to EUR 79 million and the margin to 12.1% from the previous quarter on the back of higher customer deliveries. This was a good achievement considering the scheduled maintenance activity, and if this timing impact is excluded, our result would have been at last year’s level. Our profitability continued to benefit from lower variable costs due both to lower raw material prices and our cost-saving measures. Cash flow was strong, thanks to the seasonal reduction in net working capital, and this helped to strengthen our financial position.

Customer activity recovered during the third quarter as countries and markets reopened after lockdowns. This was particularly visible for transportation, as well as home building- and furniture-related applications, which are important end-use segments for us. Demand continued on a good level in health care and life science end uses, and remained stable in the consumer goods-related end uses. Towards the end of the quarter, there were also signs of increasing demand for industrial-related products. Overall, our sales volumes increased notably from the second quarter and were close to the previous year’s level.

A consortium of investors has announced a public tender offer to the shareholders of Ahlstrom-Munksjö. I consider this evidence of the good work we have done in recent years and how we have succeeded in creating an attractive business in a world of increasing stakeholder expectations. I am also confident that the planned ownership change would ensure that we can develop our company to its fullest future potential.

IMPROVING CUSTOMER SATISFACTION

I’m particularly pleased with the positive results of our comprehensive customer survey conducted by Opticom International Research, which is a proof point that we have further reinforced our position as a global leader in fiber-based solutions. We scored particularly well in categories such as personal contact and technical service, as well as in innovation and sustainability. These are essential in strengthening our partnership with our customers, and are also important in solving the challenges of today’s society. We also achieved a world-class rating for a manufacturer in business-to-business Net Promoter Score.

AGILE ORGANIZATION

The recovery in our main markets seems to be continuing. However, there is some uncertainty provided that the recent increase in coronavirus cases could force governments around the world to reimpose regional or national restrictions. Overall, I’m very proud of how well our organization has performed in these very exceptional circumstances and responded to quickly changing market conditions. This really highlights the strengths of our company.

OUTLOOK FOR 2020

The gradual increase in customer activity translated into a broad-based recovery across the company’s businesses during the third quarter of 2020. The overall demand for Ahlstrom-Munksjö’s products is expected to remain at a rather good level in the fourth quarter of 2020, albeit with some variation depending on the end use of the products.

Ahlstrom-Munksjö’s comparable EBITDA in 2020 is expected to be in the range of EUR 315-335 million (EUR 313 million in 2019). The latest development in the pandemic has further increased uncertainty. 

SHORT-TERM RISKS

As Ahlstrom-Munksjö manages a broad portfolio of businesses and serves a wide range of end uses globally, it is unlikely to be significantly affected at a group level by individual business related factors. However, slowing global economic growth and uncertain financial market conditions could have a materially adverse effect on the Group’s financial results, operations and financial position. 

Recently, the key driver for increased uncertainty globally from an economic and social perspective has been the coronavirus pandemic. The risk of a broader economic downturn is tangible, and if it materializes, it may weaken demand for a wide range of Ahlstrom-Munksjö products for a longer period. According to the IMF, global growth is estimated at - 4.4% in 2020, a less severe contraction than previously forecast. The full impact of the pandemic cannot be foreseen at this stage. It will depend on both the duration and severity of the pandemic, and related measures taken to contain Confirmed coronavirus cases are increasing around the world and in several countries a second wave is looming, which may lead to resumed regional or national restrictions. The pandemic situation has become the new normal with its uncertainties and adapting mitigation activities to manage the situation.

Ahlstrom-Munksjö has assessed carrying amounts of assets and liabilities, such as goodwill and other intangible, tangible assets, inventories, deferred taxes, trade receivables and pension plans and re-assessed the need of impairment. Based on the assessments, the consequences of the pandemic has currently no impact on asset valuations.

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 and energy, financial risks, as well as other business factors including developments in global politics, regulations and the financial markets. The company’s financial performance may be impacted by the timing of possible raw material price increases and its ability to raise selling prices. On-going trade disputes pose a threat to the global economy, which may have an effect on Ahlstrom-Munksjö’s markets. 

Operational risks such as personnel absences, supply of key raw materials and deliveries to customers have also increased due to the pandemic. These risks have been mitigated by a rapid and coordinated response, and the implementation of the Ahlstrom-Munksjö COVID-19 Safety Protocol. However, if the pandemic continues for a longer period, the exposure to the operational  risks may increase. 

The company’s key financial risks include interest rate and currency, liquidity and credit risks. To mitigate short-term risks, methods such as hedging and credit insurance are used. Additional credit risk assessment has been implemented for customer receivables  to evaluate the potential implications of the coronavirus pandemic. Based on the assessment, the company has not identified any significant increase in the amount of bad debt, and there has currently not been any significant change in payment delays related to Ahlstrom-Munksjö’s customer receivables. However, if the pandemic continues for a longer period, the exposure to the credit risk, such as delayed payments from the customers, may increase. 

The pandemic has increased the risk of financiers becoming more cautious and reducing banks’ willingness to provide financing. This may have an impact on refinancing and increase financing costs. Ahlstrom-Munksjö’s liquidity continues to be good, and during the second quarter, the company has signed additional financing facilities to further strengthen its liquidity position. There are no major short-term refinancing needs.

The Group is exposed 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 regularly assesses the best structure for its platform of businesses and systematically evaluates M&A opportunities. In potential business combinations, substantial integration work is needed to realize expected synergies. 

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 the available current information, no significant impact on the financial position of the company is expected.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Hans Sohlström, President and CEO, tel. +358 10 888 2520
Sakari Ahdekivi, Deputy CEO and CFO, tel. +358 10 888 4760
Johan Lindh, Vice President, Group Communications and Investor Relations, + 358 10 888 4994
Juho Erkheikki, Investor Relations Manager, tel. +358 10 888 4731

WEBCAST PRESENTATION

A live webcast and a conference call will be arranged on the publishing day, October 28, 2020, at 11:00 EET. The report will be presented in English by President and CEO Hans Sohlström and Deputy CEO and CFO Sakari Ahdekivi.

WEBCAST AND CONFERENCE CALL INFORMATION

The combined webcast and teleconference can be viewed at:
https://cloud.webcast.fi/ahlstrommunksjo/ahlstrommunksjo_2020_1028_q3

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

Conference ID: 519832

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 everyday 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

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