Based on a Reuters interview with Ahlstrom CEO Risto Anttonen published today, there has been speculation on the market on Ahlstrom's outlook for 2008.
Ahlstrom stresses that its outlook for 2008 is unchanged.
Anttonen's comment on Ahlstrom's outlook for 2008 is quoted in the article as follows: 'It depends on how the market situation and raw material prices develop, of course it is challenging, it is always a challenge to improve results.'
The full version of the comment is as follows:
'It depends on how the market situation and raw material prices develop, of course it is challenging, it is always a challenge to improve results, but one also has to remember that we have taken action which help in this year's results, including closing four unprofitable plants.'
Ahlstrom restates its outlook for 2008 given on 25 April 2008:
Demand in Ahlstrom's main markets is expected to continue at a good level in 2008. However, the uncertainty related with the market development in the USA reduces short-term visibility. Initial signs of eventual softness of demand have emerged, for example in nonwoven wiping fabrics.
The recent acquisitions and the ongoing investment projects in Brazil, Russia and China are expected to increase Ahlstrom's net sales by 10% during the first half of 2008. If the USD remains at the current weak level, the full-year net sales growth is anticipated to be slightly below 10%.
Prices for Ahlstrom's main raw materials, especially pulp, are expected to increase or stay at the current high level during 2008. High oil prices are expected to keep energy and synthetic fiber costs high. On the other hand, the slowdown of the Chinese textile industry is anticipated to reduce the price of rayon. For chemicals, the price development is anticipated to be mixed.
In order to improve profitability, Ahlstrom has implemented price increases, which are currently taking effect in all business areas. As a result of the restructuring actions decided on during the fourth quarter of 2007, Ahlstrom will have a more competitive cost structure in 2008. The restructuring is targeted to gradually improve operating profit annually by EUR 25 million, with full effect seen from the second half of 2008 onwards.
As a result of the implemented growth actions and recent restructuring measures, Ahlstrom is well positioned to grow and clearly improve its operating financial performance in 2008.