Cascades decreased Operating Income Before Depreciation (OIBD) by 8.5% amid 2.9% sales increase in 1Q2017 y-o-y. According to the announcement, the company’s sales accounted for CAD 1,006 million, generating OIBD of CAD 75 million in the period (7.5% margin).
Mr. Mario Plourde, President and CEO, commented:
“Our first quarter results were hampered by several short-term elements, namely higher raw material prices, our product repositioning and new facility construction initiatives in our Tissue Papers segment, and the ongoing implementation of our ERP platform. That said, our packaging operations executed well in the first quarter, with all three divisions delivering improvements in total shipments and capacity utilization rates on both a sequential and year-over-year basis.
In the case of Containerboard, the significant increase in average OCC prices in the first three months of 2017 more than offset benefits accruing from the gradual implementation of the Fall 2016 price increase during the quarter, and put additional pressure on margins due to the timing mismatch ahead of the roll-out of the subsequent USD 50 per short ton price increase that was announced in February. While detrimental to Containerboard performance, higher recycled fibre costs benefited results in our Specialty Products division, as higher margin levels obtained from recovery and recycling activities provided a partial hedge against the impact that higher input costs had on manufacturing margins. In Europe , Reno de Medici improved results sequentially, as improving market fundamentals helped mitigate the impact of higher average fibre and chemical costs.
Regarding our Tissue activities, first quarter results were lower on both a sequential and year-over-year basis. This performance reflects higher raw material costs, lower jumbo roll sales in the slower first quarter, ongoing costs associated with our new West Coast U.S. conversion facility and marketing costs linked to recent product re-branding and repositioning. Finally, at the corporate level, costs related to our ERP implementation and internal business process optimizations increased significantly on a year-over-year basis and marginally when compared to the previous quarter. These initiatives are progressing well, and we remain focused on finalizing them by the end of the year.
Looking at our financial profile, total net debt levels increased by 6% or CAD 85 million sequentially, reflecting lower operating cash flow due to interest payments that are incurred in the first and third quarters, seasonally higher working capital requirements, and incremental capital expenditures and investments during the period. Consequently, our leverage ratio increased to 4.3x at the end of March, from 3.8x at the end of 2016. Our higher leverage ratio in Q1 is common during this period due to seasonal trends in our businesses, and the increased working capital requirements and interest costs that are characteristic of the period. We expect this to revert to more normalized levels in the near-term and continue to be focused on lowering our leverage ratio to within a range of 3.0x – 3.5x.
Lastly, I wanted to highlight an important change that was announced in early April. We are very pleased that results from our Greenpac Mill will be consolidated within our results beginning in the second quarter, as this represents the successful achievement of one of our objectives, and will provide our shareholders with greater clarity with regards to our North American containerboard platform and operational performance.”
In 4Q2016 Cascades reported stable sales and OIBD.
Earlier Cascades announced a three-year partnership agreement with Tricentris
The company is a North American leader in the recovery, manufacturing and converting of green packaging and tissue paper products. The products are composed mainly of recycled fibres. Cascades employs almost 11,000 people at more than 90 production units in North America and Europe.