AKI OJANEN, CEO OF ASPO GROUP, COMMENTS ON THE FOURTH QUARTER AND THE WHOLE YEAR
(published in the Financial Statement Release on February 11, 2021)
The exceptionally challenging year came to a fine conclusion when Aspo’s operating profit increased to a record-high of EUR 7.6 million during the fourth quarter of 2020. As cargo markets started to return to normal, ESL Shipping was able to fulfill its potential, increased by investments and acquisitions, and reached strong results. Telko segment also continued its impressive profit development during the fourth quarter, with the segment’s full-year operating profit reaching a new record of EUR 14.9 million. Leipurin suffered almost the whole year from restrictions imposed due to the pandemic, which was reflected in a significant decrease in its net sales and operating profit.
Overall, we performed well during the exceptionally challenging year. Regardless of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Aspo’s full-year operating profit in 2020 was nearly at the previous year’s level, and net cash from operating activities reached a new record of EUR 65 million. In my opinion, this is an indication of the functioning of our conglomerate’s structure and strategy and of our ability to protect our results and recover quickly from market tumult, even during unexpected economic crises. I believe that Aspo will rise as an even stronger company from this crisis, as well. I am also proud of the Group’s new long-term responsibility goal defined by Aspo’s Board of Directors, according to which Aspo’s businesses will be forerunners in responsibility in their respective sectors. In recent years, we have taken significant steps in terms of responsibility, and we are now raising the bar even higher in our businesses. Going forward, we will also regularly report our progress in terms of responsibility.
The coronavirus pandemic had an unprecedented impact on Aspo’s business environment and society at large. In spring, the Group’s net sales decreased by nearly 30%, and demand remained low until early fall. By improving the efficiency of the management system and by taking quick and determined action, we were, however, able to minimize the impact of the poor market environment on our profitability. The operating profit rates of both Telko and ESL Shipping increased to the level of long-term financial targets during the fourth quarter. Aspo’s operating profit rate increased to 5.7% during the fourth quarter of 2020 – very close to the long-term target of 6% set for relative profitability.
Our personnel deserve the thanks for our success. They have worked hard in challenging conditions throughout the year and adapted excellently to the changed operating environment. The pandemic remains fairly critical in some of our operating countries, with official restrictions continuing to have an impact on our business operations. However, we expect operating conditions to improve as a whole during 2021.