The company saw a 10% return on capital employed for the first quarter. Operating profit improved by 39% from the last quarter of 2006 but, at €23.3 million, showed a drop from €29.6 million during the year-ago period. Profit before taxes was €20.3 million, a decrease from €25.1 million during the first quarter of 2006.
According to Jukka Moisio, president and CEO, Ahlstrom’s growth strategy implementation is well underway. The company's investments are expected to generate net sales amounting to 1.5 times the investment value in three to five years and reach
a return of capital employed of at least 13%.
“The acquisitions in the FiberComposites segment will make us the third largest nonwoven roll good supplier in the world...The next phase of the growth strategy is the integration of acquisitions and starting up of the organic growth investments.” He added that he is satisfied with the steps taken and said that the Ahlstrom team will have a full workload ahead with exciting growth and business openings.
In March, Ahlstrom signed an agreement to acquire the consumer wipes business of Fiberweb plc for €65 million. The acquired business includes four plants in Europe and the U.S. Ahlstrom plans to close the deal within the second quarter of 2007, subject to antitrust clearances.
In another key acquisition, in February Ahlstrom signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Votorantim Celulose e Papel (VCP) to form a joint venture for specialty paper production in Brazil. This deal is expected to be finalized by June 2007.
Also in February, Ahlstrom signed an agreement to acquire Fabriano Filter Media SpA, based in Sassoferrato, Italy. Fabriano is a
manufacturer of microglass filter media, serving mainly the high
efficiency air filtration market. The transaction price is
approximately €7 million. The transaction complements
Ahlstrom's air filtration portfolio and reinforces the company's
position as a leading provider of filtration solutions to the
global air filtration industry.
Also in the filtration sector, Ahlstrom has invested €5 million in a new drylaid nonwoven line to serve the North American air filtration market. The new line, located at Ahlstrom's Groesbeck, TX
facility, will provide Ahlstrom with an additional fast and modern asset to better serve the HVAC filter media market in North America. The new line is expected to start at the beginning of 2008.
In still yet another investment move, Ahlstrom signed an agreement to acquire the spunlace nonwovens business of the Italian Orlandi Group. With this acquisition, Ahlstrom will become one of the leading producers of nonwoven roll goods for wipes globally. The acquisition price is approximately €60 million.