Solid performance continues; proposal to increase dividend to 0.33 euros per share.
Q4/2015 (compared with Q4/2014)
· Sales EUR 2 487 (EUR 2 552) million decreased 2.5%; sales excluding the structurally declining paper business and divested Corenso and Barcelona Mill increased 5.4%, primarily due to the Montes del Plata pulp mill and Varkaus Mill kraftliner volumes.
· Operational EBIT increased 15.8% to EUR 242 (EUR 209) million, mainly due to strong performance in Biomaterials, lower variable costs, and favourable FX.
· EPS EUR 0.53 (EUR -0.15), supported by Bergvik Skog forest fair valuation gain.
· Cash flow from operations amounted to EUR 412 (EUR 442) million, cash flow after investing activities EUR 75 (EUR 178) million.
· Continued improvement of the balance sheet; net debt to operational EBITDA 2.4 (2.6), liquidity reduced to EUR 0.8 (EUR 1.4) billion, as planned.
· Operational ROCE 11.3% (9.7%), operational ROCE excluding the Beihai Mill project in Guangxi 13.3% (13.1%).
Q4/2015 (compared with Q3/2015)
· Sales remained unchanged, sales excluding the structurally declining paper business and the divested Barcelona Mill increased 2.2%, due to small improvements across businesses.
· Operational EBIT decreased EUR 4 million, due to seasonally increased fixed costs, lower hardwood pulp prices, and unfavourable FX.
Full year 2015 (compared with 2014)
· Sales EUR 10 040 (EUR 10 213) decreased 1.7%; sales excluding the structurally declining paper business and divested Corenso and Barcelona Mill increased 4.6%, primarily due to Montes del Plata pulp mill volumes.
· Operational EBIT EUR 915 (810) million increased 13.0%, mainly due to strong performance in Biomaterials, favourable FX, and lower variable costs.
· EPS EUR 1.02 (EUR 0.13)
· Strong cash flow from operations amounted to EUR 1 556 (EUR 1 139) million, cash flow after investing activities EUR 599 (EUR 255) million.
· The Board of Directors proposes dividend to increase from EUR 0.30 to EUR 0.33.
· Varkaus Mill kraftliner ramp-up proceeding, full production expected in early 2017 as earlier announced.
· The construction of the Beihai consumer board mill in China is proceeding, and the board machine is expected to be operational during Q2.
· In October, Stora Enso completed the divestment of the Barcelona consumer board mill in Spain.
· In December, Stora Enso announced plans to divest its ownership in the Arapoti paper mill in Brazil.
· Q1/2016 sales are estimated to be similar to the amount of EUR 2 487 million and operational EBIT is expected to be in line with the EUR 242 million recorded in Q4/2015. There are no major scheduled annual maintenance shutdowns during Q1/2016.
Stora Enso‘s CEO Karl-Henrik Sundström comments on the fourth quarter 2015 results: “Stora Enso has shown its ability to transform into a renewable materials growth company. In the fourth quarter, sales excluding the structurally declining paper business and divestments increased 5.4%. This was mainly driven by the Montes del Plata pulp mill and kraftliner from Varkaus Mill. We also continued to generate strong cash flow during the quarter.
Operational EBIT in the fourth quarter increased 15.8% to EUR 242 million year-on-year, mainly due to strong performance in the Biomaterials division, lower variable costs and favourable foreign exchange. Division Wood Products delivered its highest fourth quarter operational EBIT ever, mainly due to lower wood costs and positive foreign exchange impact. Group return on capital employed excluding our board mill project in Beihai, China exceeded our strategic target 13%.
We are dedicated to be a driving force of innovation in our industry. During the quarter, we have opened two innovation centres to tap into new opportunities. The Innovation Centre for packaging in Helsinki is designed to drive innovation in packaging. It will be a venue for innovation and R&D, where we will develop innovative and sustainable packaging concepts together with customers and other stakeholders. The Innovation Centre for biomaterials in Stockholm will host research, application, business development and strategic marketing. Its purpose is to create renewable solutions and products from biomass in order to replace fossil-based products.
We are investing for growth. The construction of the Beihai consumer board mill in China is proceeding, and the board machine is expected to be operational during the second quarter in 2016. We have also taken new investment decisions during the quarter. Division Wood Products will invest EUR 16 million to start pellet production and to build a new the boiler at Ala Sawmill in Sweden, and EUR 10 million to renew the boiler at our Honkalahti Sawmill in Finland.
In December, we announced plans to divest our ownership in the Arapoti paper mill in Brazil. The divestment is part of our transformation into a renewable materials growth company. I am proud that our Sustainability Report 2014 has won four awards, including best sustainability report. The awards are the result of an annual sustainability report review, commissioned by Finland’s leading non-profit corporate responsibility network FIBS. We have recently completed a three-year corporate responsibility initiative on water stewardship run by us and the global chemicals company Kemira in the Guangxi Province in Southern China. The projects have given almost 2 600 villagers better access to clean water. Stora Enso is among the few companies globally to publicly report on group-wide human rights findings covering production units, wood supply operations, supply chain management and local community relations.
We have set action plans based on a group-wide Human Rights assessment consolidated by the Danish Institute for Human Rights. Due to better than expected progress, we started implementation early and achieved 69% completion by the end December of preventive and remediation actions.
A lot of work remains, but we have now shown our ability to transform into a renewable materials growth company. The transformation is visible in the value we bring to our customers, and it has started to be reflected in our improved operational EBIT and ROCE. We have exciting opportunities ahead. The Board of Directors proposes a dividend of EUR 0.33 per share for 2015, up EUR 0.03 per share compared with the preceding year. When it comes to the outlook for the first quarter of 2016, our sales are estimated to be similar to the amount of EUR 2 487 million. Operational EBIT is expected to be in line with the EUR 242 million recorded in Q4/2015. There are no major scheduled annual maintenance shutdowns during Q1/2016. I would like to thank our customers for their business, our employees for their dedication and our investors for their trust.”