Net sales of the FiberComposites segment for the fourth quarter were $311 million, representing 53% of the group’s net sales. The segment’s net sales for the fourth quarter decreased 2.5% compared to October-December 2008. Net sales increased 7.4% in the fourth quarter in the filtration business area as the customers refilled their inventories toward the end of the year to meet the increasing demand for their products. Net sales in other business areas decreased.
The net sales of the Advanced Nonwovens business area in the fourth quarter fell the most, a decrease of 12.2%, mainly due to exchange rate fluctuations.
For the full year, group net sales decreased in all business areas due to lower volumes in most products. Net sales for 2009 were $2 billion, a decrease of 11.4% compared to the previous year.
Net sales of the FiberComposites segment were $1 billion in 2009, representing 54% of the group’s net sales, and representing a decrease of 12.8% compared to the previous year. Within this segment, 2009 net sales of the Advanced Nonwovens business area decreased the least, down 7.3%, mainly due to the optimization of the product mix improving profitability and the impact of exchange rate fluctuations. The steepest decline, 23.6% was in the Glass & Industrial Nonwovens business area where weak demand in the windmill and marine industries was reported in Ahlstrom’s main markets. However, sales of glass fiber tissue and industrial nonwovens, such as wallcovers, increased toward the end of the year and sales of specialty reinforcements used in windmills and the marine industry seemed to have bottomed out in the fourth quarter.