Metsä Group’s comparable operating result in 2017 was EUR 566 million

JANUARY–DECEMBER 2017 (1–12/2016)
•Sales were EUR 5,040 million (4,658).
•Operating result was EUR 581 million (442). Comparable operating result was EUR 566 million (439).
•Result before tax was EUR 506 million (361). Comparable result before tax was EUR 491 million (357).
•Comparable return on capital employed was 12.3 per cent (10.2). Comparable return on capital employed excluding investments related to the bioproduct mill was 15.3 per cent (11.6).
•Cash flow from operations was EUR 905 million (504).

OCTOBER–DECEMBER 2017 (10–12/2016)
•Sales were EUR 1,328 million (1,175).
•Operating result was EUR 184 million (110). Comparable operating result was EUR 185 million (107).
•Result before tax was EUR 161 million (85). Comparable result before tax was EUR 162 million (82).
•Comparable return on capital employed was 14.9 per cent (9.8).
•Cash flow from operations was EUR 294 million (206).

•In December, Metsä Group and Metsä Board raised their result guidance for the fourth quarter due to the stronger-than-expected pulp market.
•The foreign currency-denominated market price of long-fibre pulp and the market price of short-fibre pulp increased by 7 per cent and 8 per cent, respectively, compared to the previous quarter.
•Metsä Wood decided to construct a new Kerto® LVL line at its Punkaharju mill in Finland.
•Sales prices of paperboard rose, but deliveries were at a lower level than in the previous quarter, mainly due to the seasonal decline in December.
•Difficult weather conditions had an effect on Metsä Forest’s fourth quarter result.
•Metsä Group announced its intention to build a visitor centre at the Äänekoski mill site.
•Metsäverkko, an online service for Metsä Group’s owner-members, was recognised by an innovation award from European agricultural cooperatives.
•The President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, inaugurated the Äänekoski bioproduct mill on 18 October 2017.
•Metsä Group’s future President and CEO, Ilkka Hämälä, was elected Chairman of the Finnish Forest Industries Federation.

Due to suspected information security breach, Metsä Group and Metsä Board announced preliminary information of their sales and comparable operating result and Metsä Board’s earnings per share for the fourth quarter of 2017 on 9 January 2018.

The suspected information security breach has not had financial impacts.

President and CEO Kari Jordan: “Metsä Group’ profitability in 2017 was good. Our result compared to the previous year improved particularly due to an increase in the price of pulp and positive development in the paperboard business. Our growth phase achieved many important milestones in 2017.

The world’s first next-generation bioproduct mill started up at Äänekoski, Finland, in August 2017. We followed the schedule and budget exactly. The mill’s start-up phase has progressed even better than we expected.

Last summer, we laid the foundation stone of the plywood mill in Estonia, set to be completed in the summer of 2018, and started up a new Kerto® LVL line at Lohja and an extrusion coating line at Husum paperboard mill. Converting the old paper machine hall at Äänekoski into a birch veneer mill and the renewal of the baking paper machine at the Düren mill proceeded well. Late last year, we also made the decision to increase Kerto® LVL production at the Punkaharju mill. The new line at Punkaharju will start up during the first half of 2019.

The volume of wood purchased has grown according to our plans. In 2017, we delivered approximately 32 million cubic metres of wood. We set another record in forest owners’ customer satisfaction and made plenty of new forest asset management agreements. In 2017, more than a quarter of wood trade and an even higher proportion of orders for forest management were made through digital channels. The value of the wood trade conducted in Metsä Group’s digital Metsäverkko service over a period of roughly two years totals more than EUR 200 million.

The responsibility for Metsä Group’s profit transferred to Ilkka Hämälä at the beginning of 2018. I will retire in April 2018, when Hämälä will take over as the President and CEO of Metsä Group. I began my work in Metsä Group in 2005. The transformation we began at the time translated into exiting printing and writing paper fully and, over the past five years or so, increasing investments in selected business operations. The transformation process has been significant, even on a global scale, and has resulted in a clear improvement in profitability and a strong balance sheet. Thanks to our growth investments, annual demand for Finnish wood has increased by roughly six million cubic metres.

The current outlook for the global economy is good. Finland’s economy has also picked up. The forest industry’s role as the backbone of the Finnish economy remains strong.”
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