From the CEO
CEO Pekka Tennilä in the Financial Statements Bulletin (23 February 2018):
“Continuing the transformation journey of Altia towards its strategic ambitions, year 2017 marks an important turning point with net sales developing positively and comparable EBITDA continuing to improve.
Net sales grew slightly above the previous year and totalled EUR 359.0 million, up by 1.3% with constant currencies. The growth was driven by good demand for industrial products in the Altia Industrial segment as well as continued solid performance of Altia’s core brands and core partner products in Finland, Sweden, travel retail, and exports. In addition, continuous efficiency initiatives, margin development and cost management improved the comparable EBITDA margin to 11.8% against 11.5% in 2016.
Looking back at Altia’s year 2017, the business has developed in line with the strategy to deliver profitable growth. Altia’s own Nordic core brands have continued to deliver stable growth with successful product launches and geographical expansion to new important markets in the US with Koskenkorva Vodka and O.P. Anderson Aquavit, and in Asia with Larsen Cognac. The business with our strategic partners has also grown, as we have deepened our co-operation and developed new business models. Altia’s market shares have developed positively in the key segments in the home markets, such as vodka, cognac and aquavit, with especially strong performance in Norway in the aquavit category. The wine portfolio has captured the wine market growth with new innovations such as True Colours Cava and Xanté Sparkling.
At the Koskenkorva plant, production capacity utilisation has been on a high level throughout the year, driven by good demand for starch and feed. The plant used 206 million kilos Finnish barley in 2017, which is record-high and equals an increase of 7% compared to the previous year.
Altia’s solid performance and strong balance sheet allowed the Company to pay an extra dividend of EUR 60.1 million to the owner in December. In total Altia paid EUR 70.5 million in dividends to the owner during 2017.
Following the owner’s announcement in October 2017 on the investigation of a possible IPO of Altia, the focus has been on developing the company and executing the strategy of profitable growth. In addition, the necessary preparations have been made to support the owner’s considerations.
Looking ahead to 2018, the Finnish operating environment is in an interesting development phase. The new Alcohol Act came partly into force in January 2018. The new act allows the sale of ethanol-based RTD’s (ready-to-drink beverages) in the Finnish retail channel and thereby opens new opportunities for Altia. On the other hand, the alcohol taxes were substantially increased in all alcohol categories.
The positive trend in Altia’s core brand portfolio is expected to continue. Cost increases on key raw materials and expansion in exports impact profitability development. Group comparable EBITDA is expected to improve or be at the 2017 level.”