Ahlstrom Corporation has unveiled first quarter 2009 sales and earnings information. During the January-March period, a strong decline in the demand for most of Ahlstrom’s products, which became evident toward the end of 2008, continued. Group net sales totaled €376.1 million, decreasing 19.3% to €466.2 million compared to the same period last year. Loss before taxes increased to €18.6 million from a profit before taxes of €11.2 million in the first quarter of 2008.
Net sales of the Fiber Composites segment amounted to €208.8 million, a 17.1% drop from €252.0 million in the year-ago quarter and representing 55% of the Group net sales. Net sales were reduced in most business areas due to lower volumes in most products. On the other hand, net sales grew slightly (1.5%) in the Advanced Nonwovens business area from €44.6 million a year ago to €45.3 million during 2009’s first quarter. Meanwhile in the Home and Personal Nonwovens segment, sales were down 14.4% from €65.8 million in the first quarter in 2008 to €56.4 million in this year’s first quarter.
Net sales of the Specialty Papers segment amounted to €170.1 million, accounting for 45% of the group net sales. Net sales were reduced by 21.6% from €217 million in the first quarter of 2008. Net sales were reduced in both the Release & Label Papers and Technical Papers business areas.
According to Jan Lång, president & CEO, “In the first quarter of 2009, Ahlstrom strongly and successfully retained its long-standing customer relationships. On the other hand, the global recession had a significant effect on our financial performance. A number of initiatives were started to adjust our operations to the changed situation. Despite the challenging environment, we maintained our activity level in developing new products.”
In order to adjust to the weak demand, the company has initiated a further restructuring program with the aim of gaining annual cost reductions of €50 million. In addition, Ahlstrom has increased its emphasis on its operational improvement programs to enhance cost efficiency.