Near-term outlook

The duration of the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the world economy and on Metsä Board’s business operations continue to be difficult to estimate.

Demand for paperboards continues to be strong in the company's main market areas in Europe and North America, and the paperboard order books are at a high level.

The delivery volumes of Metsä Board’s paperboards in July–September are expected to decline from the record high delivery volumes in April–June and January–March. The decline is partly due to the fire of the Husum pulp  mill’s chip conveyor in June, which resulted in production losses of some 26,000 tonnes in paperboard and 55,000 tonnes in pulp. Market pulp deliveries are also expected to decline.

The average prices of folding boxboard and white kraftliners in local currencies are expected to improve in July–September, compared to the average prices in April–June.

After the rapid rise during the early part of the year, market pulp prices have stabilised in Europe and taken a downward turn in China. Demand for market pulp in China has reduced due both to normal seasonal variation and the production curtailments of some paper paperboard producers. In Europe, the demand situation has remained good. Profitability of the associated company Metsä Fibre is also supported by the strong sawn timber business. The container shortage, particularly between Europe and Asia, continues and affects the deliveries of market pulp producers.

More planned annual maintenance shutdowns of mills are set to take place in July–September than in April–June.  

The cost inflation will continue during the second half of the year. Metsä Board estimates that the cost inflation for the full year of 2021 will be 3–4%, compared to 2020.

Exchange rate fluctuations in July–September 2021, accounting for the effect of hedges, will have a negative impact on the operating result compared to April–June 2021, and a clearly negative impact on the operating result compared to July–September 2020.