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Ahlstrom revises its full-year outlook
25
Jul '08
Ahlstrom Corporation reports Interim report for January-June 2008.

Key highlights of April-June
• Net sales grew by 6.7% to EUR 465.9 million from the second quarter in 2007. Excluding the currency impact, net sales grew by 12.3%.

• Operating profit excluding non-recurring items amounted to EUR 19.5 million, improving by 5.6% from the first quarter of this year.

• Year-on-year, operating profit excluding non-recurring items decreased by 7.3%. The main reasons for the year-on-year decrease were the losses of the La Gère plant, low volumes of the wipes business in Europe, as well as the escalating raw material prices. Although La Gère improved its performance from the first quarter, it was still burdening the Group result by EUR 2.7 million.

Outlook:
• Due to the continuing overcapacity in release base papers and wipes in Europe, as well as the uncertainty in the global economy reflecting in the demand of some of Ahlstrom's products, Ahlstrom revises its full-year outlook.

• As a result of the continuing volume growth and the positive impact of the restructuring actions taken, Ahlstrom still anticipates the net sales and operating profit to improve from last year, but is now expecting a milder improvement than earlier stated. Operating profit for the second half of this year is still expected to be clearly better than in the second half of 2007.

Risto Anttonen, CEO, comments on Ahlstrom's second quarter:
• During April-June, Ahlstrom's operating environment continued to be challenging. The anticipated softness of demand caused by the uncertainty in the global economy started to reflect in the volumes of some of our products towards the end of the quarter. Cost inflation remained strong, with average USD price for pulp rising by approximately 20% compared with the corresponding period last year, and USD price for energy by over 40%. We are constantly implementing price increases to offset the cost effect, and their impact will be gradually visible.

• Net sales came in at EUR 465.9 million, growing by 6.7% from the previous year. We saw a nice progress also in comparable net sales adjusted for currency effect, acquisitions and closures, which grew by 8.1% on the second quarter, and by approximately 2.0% on the first quarter of this year.

• Second quarter operating profit excluding non-recurring items amounted to EUR 19.5 million, improving by 5.6% from the first quarter. Year-on-year, the impact of La Gère, low volumes in wipes as as well as the escalating raw material and energy prices decreased the operating profit excluding non-recurring items by 7.3%.

• We have taken actions to tackle the challenges in the release base papers and wipes in Europe, e.g. by organizing the wipes business into a separate business area, and I am confident that their performance will gradually improve. I am pleased to see that all the other business areas were performing asanticipated.

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