Ahlstrom with less sales but improving profitability in first quarter 2014
Finnish Ahlstrom (high performance fibre based materials) reports for continuing operations and the first quarter 2014 2.4 % less sales, but net sales grew 2.6 % at constant currency rates, also increasing profitability in Advanced Filtration, Food and Transportation Filtration
Ahlstrom presents it first quarter results with net sales of EUR 249.2 (255.3) million, and operating profit of EUR 4.4 (EUR 8.3) million and by excluding non-recurring items profit amounted to EUR 7.2 (6.5) million, thus an operating margin of 2.9 (2.5) %. Profit before taxes settled at EUR 5.2 (3.6) million. Capital expenditure amounted to EUR 9.0 (11.5) million and the number of personnel was 3502 (3821) persons.
As we are well aware, the company has been repositioning itself over the past two years. New products were introduced to accelerate growth and improve sales mix and profit margin. One key product was launched in the first quarter, namely Ahlstrom NatureMoldTM, a new biodegradable moulding material for food packaging.
The operating environment in Ahlstrom’s main markets improved in the first quarter slightly. The North American economy continued to grow and some positive signs were witnessed in Europe. Development varied in Asia with growth slowing in China. The economy in South America continued to be soft.
The Advance Filtration business showed steady growth in the laboratory and life science filtration markets in Europe and Asia, whereas the development was somewhat softer in North America. Demand for water, gas turbine and high efficiency air applications grew well. The Building and Energy business showed demand for construction related materials and was stable in Europe, but softened in Russia. The market for reinforced glass fibre products for the wind energy industry in Europe was steady at low level, whereas it started to recover in North America thanks to tax incentives. Demand for wallpaper and wall covering substrates softened in Europe and China. The Food business reports solid demand for beverage, food packaging and tape products in all main geographical regions, except for South America. Growth continued in the single-use coffee products market. The Medical business demand for medical fabrics was stable in Europe and North America, while it strengthened in Asia, supported by the growing trend for single use products. The transportation filtration business showed solid continued growth in the transportation filtration materials markets in Asia, North America, and Europe, and in South America there are some positive signs following a slowdown in the second half of 2013.