Roll goods producer Ahlstrom has released financial information for the January-March 2008 quarter. Sales grew by 11.9%, amounting to €466.2 million, up from €416.5 million in the year-ago quarter, as a result of recent growth investments. Excluding the currency impact, net sales grew by 17.1%. Operating profit excluding non-recurring items decreased to €18.4 million, down from €19.6 million in the first quarter of 2007. This was due to a further delay in the ramp-up of the company’s La Gère release base paper investment burdening operating profit by €3.6 million, as well as the continued rise of raw material prices. Cash flow from operating activities grew significantly to €40.7 million from -€12.0 million during the prior year period primarily as a result of increased cash flow from working
In the nonwovens segment, sales totaled €137 million in the first quarter, up 40.8% from €97.4 million during the first quarter of 2007. Nonwovens sales in total reached 491.6 in 2007. Sales for glass composites during the quarter were up a significant 27.9% to €35.6 million from €27.9 million a year ago. First quarter sales in the fiber composites business were €252 million, up 22% from €206.4 in the year-ago first quarter. In the filtration sector, Ahlstrom saw quarterly sales hit €79.9 million, down 3.3% from €82.6 million in the first quarter of 2007.
As a result of implemented growth investments and restructuring actions, Ahlstrom considers itself well positioned to grow and improve its operating financial performance in 2008.
Risto Anttonen, CEO, commented on Ahlstrom’s first quarter performance, describing volumes and overall demand for most of Ahlstrom’s products as good during the first quarter, with net sales growth on track. “Net sales grew especially strongly in the Fiber Composites segment and in South America as a result of recent growth investments,” he said. “During the quarter, we made another new investment for future growth by acquiring a vegetable parchment company in the U.S., and one of the highlights of the quarter was also the start-up of our new glass nonwovens plant in Tver, Russia. The operating environment continued to be challenging during the first quarter of 2008, with main raw materials and energy prices rising further. At the same time, the predictability of the market became increasingly short term-oriented.”