Interim report January-June 2022
Record financial performance in a milestone quarter
- All-time high sales, EBITDA and operating cash flow
- First quarter where Verso was included – net sales growth 75%
- Strong organic growth, both in Europe 17% and North America 19%
- Price and mix improvements more than offset the cost inflation
- Excellent cash delivery and strong balance sheet position
- Net sales grew by 75% to SEK 11 408 million (6 504), whereof Billerud North America accounted for SEK 3 738 million
- Adjusted EBITDA* increased to SEK 2 267 million (883), whereof Billerud North America accounted for SEK 704 million. The adjusted EBITDA margin was 20% (14%)
- Operating profit was SEK 1 609 million (404)
- Net profit was SEK 1 419 million (311)
- Earnings per share amounted to SEK 6.83 (1.50)
OUTLOOK FOR Q3
- Despite macro-economic uncertainty, the business is expected to remain strong for the third quarter
- Continued cost inflation for inputs, especially for pulpwood in Europe
- Positive price impact and mix improvements expected to offset higher costs
Comments by the CEO
BillerudKorsnäs is now a significantly larger company with Billerud North America’s (formerly Verso’s) result included from 1 April 2022. Performance in the second quarter was outstanding across all geographies, with total net sales of around SEK 11.4 billion. This was also the first quarter with a considerably broader product portfolio, manufacturing on two continents and as many as 5 900 employees. This creates a platform for future sustainable and profitable growth.
The financial result in the second quarter was excellent. Compared with last year, net sales excluding currency effects, the acquisition of Verso and the divestment of Beetham grew by 17%. At the same time, the acquired business’ currency neutral sales grew by 19%. The EBITDA margin remained strong, driven by production stability and price and mix improvements, resulting in record operating cash flow.
Despite the recessionary threat, the business remains strong both in Europe and North America. In the second quarter, we have seen high demand for all our products and prices have remained strong. Our mix continues to improve, hand in hand with the production optimization and stability across our sites. Most of our products are used for essential applications and we will continue to proactively balance cost increases with prices and mix. Demand for our products continues to be solid.
The war in Ukraine continues to have an impact on raw material prices and uncertainty in Europe. We are seeing a significant increase in wood cost, while prices for other raw materials are stabilizing at a high level. Logistics within Europe and overseas continue to be a significant challenge, both for transport availability and reliability. The situation in North America is improving slowly with stable wood costs, stabilizing costs for other raw materials and an improvement of the logistic situation.
Since the closure of the deal with Verso, we have started a systematic integration process that covers all critical business and management areas. While we will run the business in line with local needs, we will ensure that key processes and policies are aligned. The AGM endorsed our proposal to simplify our name to Billerud and we will legally change the company name in October. We have also simplified further our organization with focus on the key critical business areas. We have started the preparations for the conversion of manufacturing assets in the US to paperboard production under the leadership of our Head of Transformation Program, who reports to me.
In the third quarter we will have scheduled maintenance stops in Gävle, Karlsborg and Escanaba and carry out a planned major upgrade in Quinnesec mill. The rebuild at Quinnesec will increase the pulp capacity and enable quality improvements that will be leveraged for added value pricing.
The rights issue carried out in the second quarter was subscribed by more than 200% and enabled paying down on the loans raised to finance the Verso acquisition. We now have a strong balance sheet to finance the investment in the transformation and our potential bleached chemi-thermomechanical pulp investment in Norway. Net debt to EBITDA will remain comfortably within our set target of below 2.5.
Our strategic direction is clear, and our employees are committed. I believe that BillerudKorsnäs will contribute significant values to our customers, employees, and shareholders.
President and CEO
The quarter in review
Sales and results
Net sales for the second quarter grew by 75% to SEK 11 408 million (6 504). Net sales excluding currency effects increased by 72%, mainly due to the acquisition of Verso, which was completed on 31 March 2022. Verso, which has changed name to Billerud North America, had net sales of SEK 3 738 million and sales volumes of 307 ktonnes in the second quarter of 2022. Net sales growth excluding currency effects, the acquisition of Verso and the divestment of Beetham was 17%.
Adjusted EBITDA increased to SEK 2 267 million (883). The higher result was primarily due to the acquisition of Verso, but also driven by price increases and an improved mix. Billerud North America contributed an EBITDA of SEK 704 million, negatively affected by a one-off effect of around SEK 170 million, attributed to the sales of inventory valued at fair value at the time of the acquisition. Higher costs for chemicals, fibres and logistics had an adverse effect.
The comparison with the second quarter 2021 is affected by a changed maintenance schedule, the production incident at Gävle in the second quarter of 2021 and UPM’s strike which has affected production at Pietarsaari in 2022.
No items affecting comparability impacted the results for the second quarter (–).
Market development and outlook
During the second quarter of 2022, market conditions continued to be strong for all product segments. Implemented price increases had effect across all segments.
Despite the macro-economic uncertainty, BillerudKorsnäs’ business is expected to remain strong for the third quarter. The cost inflation throughout the business is expected to continue or prices flattening out at a high level. Costs for pulpwood in Europe will increase significantly. Positive price impact and mix improvements are expected to offset the higher costs.
Events in the quarter
Annual maintenance was performed in April at Gruvön, and in May at Skärblacka and Pietarsaari. The total negative impact of maintenance shutdowns in the second quarter amounted to around SEK 345 million, which was higher than normal due to longer stops at Skärblacka and Gruvön.
Production at Pietarsaari ran at lower capacity in the first half of the second quarter due to the strike at UPM. The negative impact of the strike on the result amounted to around SEK 15 million.
On 10 May, the Annual General Meeting authorised the Board to resolve on a rights issue amounting to maximum SEK 3.5 billion. The Meeting also resolved to simplify the company’s name to Billerud Aktiebolag (publ) by an amendment of the Articles of Association. The name change to “Billerud” will be implemented from October, when the new Articles of Association will be registered by the Swedish Companies Registration Office. The Meeting on 10 May furthermore elected Florian Heiserer and Magnus Nicolin as new Board members and re-elected Andrea Gisle Joosen, Bengt Hammar, Jan Svensson, Victoria Van Camp and Jan Åström as Board members. Jan Svensson was re-elected as Chairman of the Board.
On 25 May, the Board of Directors resolved on a rights issue with preferential rights for existing shareholders of approximately SEK 3.5 billion, and the terms of the rights issue was announced. The prospectus about the rights issue was published on BillerudKorsnäs website on 30 May 2022.
On 21 June the preliminary outcome of BillerudKorsnäs’ rights issue was disclosed, and on 27 June, the final outcome was announced. The rights issue was significantly oversubscribed. New shares subscribed for by the exercise of subscription rights were registered with the Swedish Companies Registration Office on 29 June 2022. The proceeds of the rights issue were received towards the end of June and was used to repay term loans. Read more on pages 7 and 8.
BillerudKorsnäs has introduced Performance White Barrier, a new coated sack paper, that replaces the plastic barrier which is usually found in paper sacks. The new material can be recycled as paper, has a printable surface, the same high quality as our previous sack paper, and a more sustainable footprint. It can be used for packaging of a variety of powdered goods, such as animal feed, building materials, minerals and dry food.
For further information, please contact:
Ivar Vatne, CFO, +46 8 553 335 07
Lena Schattauer, Head of Investor Relations, +46 8 553 335 10
This is information that BillerudKorsnäs AB (publ) is obliged to make public pursuant to the EU Market Abuse Regulation. The information was submitted for publication, through the agency of the contact persons set out above, at 07.00 CET on 20 July 2022.