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Stora Enso Q3 2002 Profit Excluding Non-Recurring Items Improved

Press release from the issuing company

HELSINKI, Finland, Oct. 22 -- Stora Enso today announced that Stora Enso's earnings per share excluding non-recurring items were EUR 0.15 (EUR 0.12) in the third quarter. Profit before taxes and minority interests, excluding non-recurring items, amounted to EUR 196.8 (EUR 154.6) million. The operating profit excluding non-recurring items was EUR 255.4 (EUR 190.2) million. The non-recurring items of the third quarter totalled EUR -1,229.5 million, comprising mainly EUR -54.0 (USD -50.0) million associated with the North American Profit Enhancement Plan and EUR 1,166.7 (USD 1,081) million of impairment charges. Sales of EUR 3,108.6 million were 3.8% less than the previous quarter's EUR 3,233.0 million. Cash flow from operations was EUR 565.5 (EUR 710.1) million. The cash flow after investing activities amounted to EUR 380.3 (EUR 535.9) million, and the cash earnings per share excluding non-recurring items, EUR 0.51 (EUR 0.48). Market-related production curtailments totalled 271 000 tonnes (326 000 tonnes). Commenting on the results and market outlook, Stora Enso's CEO Jukka Harmala said, "Markets remained demanding in the third quarter. In Western Europe prices on average deteriorated due to excess capacity in certain grades. In North America markets strengthened slightly due in part to a seasonal upturn. Some modest improvement in demand is now apparent in advertising-driven paper grades, but only from low levels. The upturn began earlier and has been more pronounced in the USA than Europe. Markets for consumer-driven paper and board grades such as office paper and packaging boards are generally firm, but have recently been showing signs of slight weakening. It remains to be seen whether this is a temporary fluctuation. Markets for wood products should remain stable for the rest of the year, but prospects thereafter will depend on the US housing market. The fourth quarter results will, as usual, reflect the holiday season maintenance shutdowns in Finland."