HELSINKI, Finland, April 29 -- Stora Enso today announced that Stora Enso's operating profit was EUR 211.1 (EUR 206.9) million, which is 6.8% of sales and 2.0% up on the previous quarter. Earnings per share were EUR 0.10 (EUR 0.12). Profit before tax and minority interests amounted to EUR 129.3 million (EUR 143.0 million). There were no non-recurring items in the first quarter.
Sales of EUR 3 099.1 million were 3.5% down on the previous quarter's EUR 3 212.1 million. Cash flow from operations was EUR 469.7 (EUR 405.1) million and cash flow after investing activities EUR 255.9 (EUR 118.8) million. Cash earnings per share were EUR 0.43 (EUR 0.44). Net financial items increased to EUR -81.3 (EUR -60.8) million which includes the non-cash valuation of financial instruments of EUR -44.1 (EUR -11.0) million. Market-related production curtailments totalled 202 000 tonnes (325 000 tonnes).
Commenting on the market outlook, Stora Enso's CEO Jukka Harmala said, "The global economy is still suffering from the uncertainty caused by the Iraq war, and the current fear of a global epidemic is affecting consumer confidence. The outlook for advertising spending is bleak in Europe but more optimistic in North America. Increased pulp and waste paper prices will have a stabilising effect on paper prices."
In Europe it still remains to be seen when consumer confidence will pick up and advertising markets recover. Some price pressure persists in coated printing papers due to overcapacity. Markets for office papers, packaging boards and timber products are expected to remain stable.
In North America the geopolitical uncertainty has decreased the demand for advertising-driven paper grades after a relatively good start of the year. It appears that the demand will recover, and the latest advertising spending figures suggest that the negative sentiment towards advertising spending due to the war will fade away. The proposed price increases are expected to be introduced gradually. The demand for timber products in the USA can also be affected by economic uncertainty, but fundamentally it is driven by interest rates, which remain low.
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