Metsä Group’s comparable operating result in January–March 2024 was EUR 70 million

Ilkka Hämälä, President and CEO, Metsä Group

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January–March 2024 (1–3/2023)

  • Sales were EUR 1,457 million (1,634). 
  • Operating result was EUR 58 million (276). Comparable operating result was EUR 70 million (276).
  • Result before taxes was EUR 45 million (271). Comparable result before taxes was EUR 57 million (272).
  • Comparable return on capital employed was 4.0% (15.3).
  • Net cash flow from operations was EUR -137 million (38).

Events during the first quarter of 2024 

  • The average sales prices of Metsä Group’s long-fibre pulp increased in Europe and decreased slightly in China compared with the previous quarter. 
  • Demand for market pulp increased in Europe and North America. In China, demand remained at a good level. 
  • Demand for Metsä Group’s paperboards picked up substantially from the previous quarter. The average price of folding boxboard declined.
  • In March, Metsä Board decided not to construct a paperboard mill in Kaskinen.
  • Political strikes in Finland halted goods transports and brought export ports to a standstill between 11 March and 8 April 2024. The strikes had a negative impact on the operating result, as production stopped at 13 production units.
  • The downtime caused by the gas explosion that occurred at the Kemi bioproduct mill’s evaporation plant is expected to last until the end of June. The explosion will also affect the paperboard mill’s production.
  • A five-year investment programme with a value of EUR 100 million is being planned for the Mänttä tissue paper mill. 
  • Metsä Group and Andritz decided to build a demo plant for the development of new lignin products in Äänekoski. 
  • Metsä Group initiated pre-engineering for a mill producing Muoto packaging and a prefeasibility study for a mill producing Kuura textile fibre.

Result guidance April–June 2024

In April–June 2024, Metsä Group’s comparable operating result is expected to be weaker than in January–March 2024.

Events after the review period

Sawn timber production in Merikarvia ended in April.

In April, Metsä Board made an investment decision of approximately EUR 60 million to modernise the Simpele folding boxboard machine. It is expected to be completed in the second half of 2025.

President and CEO Ilkka Hämälä:

For most of Metsä Group’s business areas, the market situation in the first quarter of 2024 was stronger than at the end of the previous year. Paperboard order inflows  clearly improved from the low levels of the previous year, while the pulp price increased on the European market. Sawn timber prices increased, and the outlook for the second quarter strengthened. The markets for Kerto® LVL and birch plywood, as well as tissue and greaseproof papers, remained at a good level. In a situation promising budding growth and stronger demand, the four-week political strikes had a very significant impact on Metsä Group’s result. The majority of Metsä Group’s 21 mills in Finland were shut down for 2–3 weeks due to the port strike and the strike affecting rail goods transport. The result effect is expected to total EUR 60 million, EUR 20 million of which is allocated to the second quarter. Metsä Group commands a globally significant position as a soft-wood pulp supplier and a seller of premium folding boxboard and linerboards to European and North American customers. The long political strike will seriously affect customer relationships. Such irresponsible behaviour on the trade unions’ part undermines opportunities to develop Finnish industry in the long term.

As a group owned by Finnish forest owners, Metsä Group develops its operations true to its basic mission of increasing the value of Finnish forests. All our business areas have growth strategies, which we impl-ment even if external factors do not always support this development. As one growth option for Metsä Board’s paperboard business, we explored the possibility of investing in a new paperboard mill in Kaskinen. As the results of the pre-engineering stage indicated that the project would not achieve adequate profitability, we abandoned the investment plan. Instead, we decided to carry out an investment programme to improve the efficiency of our existing paperboard mills. The investments in Metsä Tissue’s and Metsä Wood’s new pro-duction lines are progressing as planned towards their deployment scheduled for 2025. Our new product development projects are also making progress. Stud-ies are underway to determine the profitability of in-vestments in commercial production units in both the MuotoTM 3D fibre packaging and the Kuura® textile fibre project. Metsä Fibre decided to invest in a demo plant for lignin products in Äänekoski. The pre-feasibility study concerning a large-scale carbon capture facility is still underway.

Metsä Group has gradually adopted harmonised business processes. As part of the project, the SAP ERP solution will be renewed by 2026. The central financial system and the wood supply system have already been implemented, and the deployment of the business system for the Wood Products Industry has be-gun. In future, the harmonisation of data architecture and content, part of the system renewal, will enable business efficiency to be improved with the aid of AI-based systems, for example.

Metsä Group’s work begins with our owner-members in Finnish forests and ends in products that meet our global customers’ daily needs. Implementing this value chain by continuously improving resource efficiency and considering the sustainability impact of our business in every respect is the basis of planning our operations. Metsä Group’s strong financial position and the personnel’s solid competence provide a good foundation for this work.


Source: Metsä Group