AKI OJANEN, CEO OF ASPO GROUP, COMMENTS ON THE FOURTH QUARTER AND FINANCIAL YEAR
(published in the Financial Statement Release on February 14, 2019)
“Aspo’s net sales continued to increase significantly, and the operating profit adjusted by the impairment loss recognized on Kauko’s goodwill improved clearly. Even though Aspo’s profitability has developed positively and all main businesses increased their operating profit during the fourth quarter, we have not been able to use the full potential of all businesses. ESL Shipping accounted for a significant part of the increase in Aspo’s net sales. ESL Shipping’s new environmentally friendly vessels and the acquisition of Swedish shipping company AtoB@C had a positive effect on its net sales in the fourth quarter. Eastern markets, an area important to Aspo, developed well, with net sales during the fourth quarter growing by 12%.
During the fourth quarter, the impairment loss of EUR 4.8 million recognized on Kauko’s goodwill strained Aspo’s operating profit. Serious technical problems with cranes slowed down the deployment of ESL Shipping’s new vessels. This also reduced profit for the fourth quarter. Cargotec MacGregor, the crane supplier, is committed to completing its warranty repairs during the first quarter of 2019. We can be satisfied with the operation of the energy and environmental efficiency systems of the new vessels. When we can raise the reliability and efficiency of the loading and unloading operations of the new vessels to the planned level, the vessels will meet our high profitability requirements and they can be placed to intended customers’ cargo deliveries.
During the 2018 financial year, net sales reached a new record level of EUR 541 million. The operating profit for the financial year, adjusted by the impairment loss recognized on goodwill, stood at EUR 25.4 million, increasing for the second year in succession. The operating profit for the period was EUR 20.6 (23.1) million. During the 2018 financial year, Aspo made significant investments to ensure its future growth and the development of its profitability. ESL Shipping’s new vessels and the acquisition completed in Sweden, combined with investments to expand operations, for example, in Central Asia, enable Aspo’s strong financial performance to continue. We expect Aspo’s strong financial performance to continue and indebtedness to decrease. Aspo is committed to reaching its financial goals. The year 2018 was significant in terms of investments and operations on our way towards our goals.”