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Ahlstrom Sees Strong Organic Growth

October 29, 2008

Net sales climb 1.4% to €451 million from €445 million.

Ahlstrom Corporation has released third quarter sales and earnings figures for the July-September 2008 period. Net sales grew by 1.4% to €451 million from €445 million during the year-earlier quarter. Organic growth in net sales was still strong, as comparable net sales grew by 6.9% adjusted for the currency effect, acquisitions and closures from the same period last year.

During the quarter, the Fiber Composites segment accounted for 55% and the Specialty Papers segment 45% of net sales. The net sales of the Fiber Composites segment amounted to €249.3 million compared to €249.8 million, decreasing by 0.2% from the third quarter of 2007. Within the segment, organic growth was especially strong in the Advanced Nonwovens business area thanks to brisk demand for medical applications. Also the Glass Nonwovens business area posted an increase both in net sales and volumes as a result of strong demand for windmill applications. In the Home & Personal Nonwovens and Filtration business areas, net sales decreased due to lower volumes in wipes and automotive filtration, plant closures and the currency effect.
For the January-September period, net sales amounted to €1.4 billion, a 6.6% increase over the €1.3 billion earned during the first three months of last year. During the nine-month period, net sales of the Fiber Composites segment grew to €758 million, up 9.6% from the previous year ‘s €692 million.

Third-quarter operating profit excluding non-recurring items decreased by 28.9% to €11.5 million, down from €16.2 million during the previous year’s third quarter, mainly due to lower gross margin and decreased demand in some of Ahlstrom's products.
Looking ahead, Risto Anttonen, CEO, expects decreasing raw material and energy costs to have a positive impact on Ahlstrom's cost base. In addition, most of the integration work connected with its recent heavy acquisition program (including Fiberweb's and Orlandi's wipes businesses), and the start-ups related to organic growth investments (such as La Gère and Tver) are now behind Ahlstrom. “This will give us a good starting point for 2009,” he said.

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