AKI OJANEN, CEO OF ASPO GROUP, COMMENTS ON THE SECOND QUARTER
(published in the Half Year Financial Report on August 14, 2018)
During the second quarter, Aspo more than doubled the earnings per share to EUR 0.17 (0.08). The increase of net sales by 7% and improvement of operating profit by 39% during the second quarter from the comparative period were consequences of long-term actions inducing growth and improved profitability, aimed at achieving Aspo's long-term financial goals.
Aspo's main businesses ESL Shipping and Telko both produced record-high operating profits during the second quarter. The actions aimed at speeding up ESL Shipping's recent growth were completed up to an interim stage when the acquisition of the Swedish shipping company AtoB@C was announced. The acquisition will increase ESL Shipping's net sales to a new level. It is particularly important that in addition to its current strong market position, ESL Shipping will now also be able to serve new customer bases and transport volumes. We will inform about the future goals of ESL Shipping and the associated actions in more detail during 2018. We expect that the acquisition will be completed during August. Delivery of the shipping company's newbuildings has been delayed from the original schedule. Finalizing the vessels' technical systems following the experience gained during sea trial runs is taking longer than expected. We expect that the vessels will be handed over to the shipping company so that the first vessel would be delivered during August and the second one during August-September.
Telko's operating profit was the best ever during a single quarter. The actions promised by Telko for improving both growth and profitability clearly manifested themselves during the second quarter, as net sales grew by 9%, operating profit increased by 50% and the operating profit rate improved to 5%.
Leipurin has now been improving its operating profit for five consecutive quarters. The essential factors contributing to the improved result have been stabilization of the machinery operations and profitable expansion of the bakery raw material operations in the east.
Our smallest unit Kauko has not met its targets. The company's application business unit was closed down during the second quarter, which also resulted in redundancies.
Aspo's business operations in the eastern market continued to grow at a rate normal for Aspo, approximately by 15% compared to the comparative period, at the same time improving their relative profitability in the market area. Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine constitute Aspo's biggest single market area, where we expect growth to continue.
We have also aimed at a clear improvement of results this year, and I am pleased to say that after the second quarter, the outlook for 2018 has remained unchanged. I believe that Aspo's profit potential has improved as a result of the actions taken and the acquisitions announced.