Press release
27 Apr 2001, 13:51 CET

Report on operations for the three months ended March 31, 2001

Report on operations for the three months ended March 31, 2001 Net sales and earnings Net sales for the first quarter of 2001 totaled SEK 1,840 M, up 16 percent on the corresponding quarter of the preceding year. Operating profit rose to SEK 469 M, compared with SEK 225 M for Q1 2000. The improvement was due to higher average prices combined with a favorable exchange-rate trend. Expressed in tonnes, deliveries were slightly lower than for the corresponding quarter of the preceding year. Income Statement, including operating profit, in summary: Actual Pro forma Pro forma (SEK M) Jan-March 2000 Jan-March 2001 2000 Net sales 1,840 6,666 1,588 Other revenues 5 39 3 Operating -1,291 -5,0191) -1,291 expenses Depreciation -85 -302 -75 Operating 469 1,384 225 profit 1) Operating expenses have been reduced by SPP refund of SEK 36 M. The below table shows net sales and operating profit for the first quarter of 2001 per product area (preliminary distribution): Net sales Operating profit Actual Pro Actual Pro (SEK M) Jan- forma Jan- forma March Jan- March Jan- 2001 March 2001 March 2000 2000 Kraft paper 972 804 231 94 Containerboard 481 441 107 64 Market pulp 387 343 141 81 Other 0 0 -10 -14 Total 1,840 1,588 469 225 Balance Sheet, in summary (SEK M) Actual Pro forma March 31, 2001 January 1, 2001 Assets Fixed assets 4,283 4,257 Other current assets 1,945 1,873 Cash and bank balances 429 729 Total assets 6,657 6,859 Shareholders' equity, provisions and liabilities Shareholders' equity 2,542 2,224 Interest-bearing provisions 99 102 Interest-free provisions 431 431 Interest-bearing liabilities 2,732 3,231 Interest-free liabilities 853 871 Total shareholders' equity, provisions and liabilities 6,657 6,859 At the beginning of the year, the company's net debt/equity ratio was close to a multiple of 1.2. As a result of the strong cash flow during the first quarter, net indebtedness declined to approximately SEK 2.4 billion at the same time as shareholders' equity increased to SEK 2.5 billion. Accordingly, the net debt/equity ratio slightly exceeded a multiple of 0.9. The interest-bearing liabilities relate to debts to the current owners and will be refinanced during the year. Investments Investments in plant amounted to SEK 111 M and depreciation amounted to SEK 85 M. Most of the investments related to decisions made in preceding years, and in particular to an evaporation plant at Billerud Gruvön. Key data Actual Pro forma Jan-March Pro forma Jan-March 2001 2000 2000 Gross margin, % 30 25 19 Operating margin, % 25 21 14 Capital employed, SEK M 4,944 4,804 4,689 Average number of 2,351 2,442 2,480 employees 1) 1) Excluding personnel employed in sales companies outside Sweden that belong to Stora Enso and AssiDomän. The approximately 50 employees concerned will be transferred to Billerud during the current year. Gross margin: Operating profit before depreciation as a percentage of net sales. Operating margin: Operating profit as a percentage of net sales. Capital employed: Total assets less cash and bank balances and interest-free liabilities and provisions. As at the end of the period. Integration work A number of projects were initiated at the beginning of the year to capitalize on the coordination potential identified between the Gruvön, Karlsborg and Skärblacka paper mills. The work, organized through different working groups, is progressing energetically. The largest structural coordination gains relate to the production and sales areas. The combination of three mills with a similar product mix creates significant opportunities for efficiency and coordination improvements. In addition, there is the effect of the increased capacity contributed by recently implemented investments, which has yet to be fully utilized. Combined, the coordination gains and higher capacity are expected to generate a positive impact of approximately SEK 200 M on Billerud's earnings, which will be fully realized during 2003, subject to normal capacity utilization. Market outlook Demand declined gradually during the first three months of the year. This particularly applied to market pulp, for which deliveries were low and producer pulp inventories have risen. During the quarter, the price of Nordic long-fiber pulp dropped from USD 710 per tonne to USD 580-600 per tonne and the downward trend is continuing. Demand for containerboard was also weak. Towards the end of the quarter, softer demand was also noted for kraft paper. The fall in pulp prices depressed the price of kraft paper. To meet the prevailing demand situation, Billerud has implemented production cutbacks and further curtailments are anticipated during the next few quarters. Earnings will therefore be lower. Share listing planned In accordance with a proposal to the Annual General Meeting, AssiDomän intends to spin off its entire holding in Billerud to shareholders. This transaction is expected to be implemented at the end of 2001. In conjunction with the spin off, the Billerud shares will be listed on the O List of Stockholmsbörsen. Further information will be available in the listing prospectus. All figures related to 2000 are pro forma. Stockholm, April 27, 2001 Billerud AB (publ) Board of directors The interim report contained in this press release has been reviewed by the company's auditors. For further information, please contact: Bert Östlund, President and CEO, telephone +46 8 655 92 54, +46 70 518 27 57 ------------------------------------------------------------ This information was brought to you by BIT The following files are available for download: