Arjo bears scars of price war
THE INVESTMENT COLUMN
Arjo's problem is that it has been faced with a slump in demand as customers used up stocks while they waited for the soaring price of paper to fall. The first half was decent enough but demand then deteriorated as de-stocking continued.
Yesterday's full-year figures bore the battle scars. Pre-exceptional profits fell by just 10 per cent to pounds 207m. But half of that was wiped out by charges of pounds 120m relating to last November's restructuring of the European operations.
The difficulties have continued in the early months of this year. Sales volumes are still weak and prices are coming under increased pressure. Though the worst of the de-stocking appears to be over in Europe, the slowing of some economies such as France, Germany and North America is likely to delay an upturn.
On the bright side, the pulp price is finally beginning to fall which will help Arjo's margins. Pulp prices reached more than $1000 per tonne last autumn and the price has been falling steadily to $600. It is not clear how much further it has to fall but at the bottom of the last cycle pulp prices went as low as $400.
The good news for Arjo is that though it has been ravaged by the cycle it looks reasonably well placed for an upturn. It has a good geographic spread and has been expanding into the "added value" coated-paper market via the acquisition of the Newton Falls mill in the US last year. This will balance the group's interest in the mature but still cash generative carbonless paper market.
With analysts forecasting profits of around pounds 185m this year the shares are on a forward rating of 14. They have, however, already enjoyed a significant bounce since the end of last year when they fell to 160p. Up 8p to 210p yesterday they are high enough.
- 1 Morgan Freeman on the riot-focused coverage of the Baltimore protests: 'F**k the media'
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 4 Frankie Boyle on Scottish independence: 'In the Interests of Unity, F**k Off'
- 5 Length of pregnancy can vary by up to five weeks, scientists discover
Boston Marathon runner's search for mystery man she kissed ends with letter from his wife
Saudi Arabia's King Salman sacks senior aide for 'slapping' a journalist behind him live on TV
Frankie Boyle on Scottish independence: 'In the Interests of Unity, F**k Off'
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
In defence of liberal democracy
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
Andy McSmith's Sketch: Feisty audience is the real star of an enlightening show
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Can you speak German,...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity f...
£215 per day: Ashdown Group: Junior Project Manager (website, web application ...
£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software Engineer / Softw...