Fewer pulp and paper sales but substantially higher prices allowed Navigator to increase profits by 115% to €50.6 million in the first quarter, despite rising costs. Inflationary pressures will continue to take their toll on the company’s business in the coming months.
“Raw material costs have risen across the board, especially in the case of chemicals, energy, and logistics. The constraints have become more severe and Navigator is managing this unfavourable trend by working concertedly to improve efficiency and boost productivity, softening the impact of higher variable costs by containing consumption, and through ongoing endeavours to control fixed costs,” says the company in a statement sent to CMVM.
In the first quarter, the turnover increased 44% compared to the same period last year, and 3.4% compared to the previous three months. This evolution was sustained by price increases, as the volume of pulp sales fell 1% year-on-year and 9% quarter-on-quarter, and paper sales fell 3% and 17%, respectively. The latter in particular was penalised by logistical constraints and the need to replenish stocks.
The average price of pulp (PIX BHKP index) rose 48% in dollars and 58% in euros compared to the first quarter of last year, and 1% in dollars and 3% in euros compared to the fourth quarter. In paper, a rise of 28% and 15% was recorded.
“Paper market dynamics strongly affected by reduction in capacity in Europe and United States and limited supply in Middle East and African markets,” in a period when demand for printing and writing paper grew 0.6% (until February), explains the company.
The volume of tissue sales fell 4% compared to the same quarter last year and 6% compared to the previous one. Once again, high prices boosted the value of sales, with a growth of 17% compared to the first quarter of 2021 and 5% compared to the last quarter. Even so, the business margin suffered a significant reduction due to the increase in charges. In packaging, the company achieved sales of €21 million.
Rising costs were a hallmark of the quarter, with production costs increasing by €39 million and logistics costs by €12 million, with Navigator stressing that “logistical constraints are still being experienced and are affecting the economy as a whole”. The policy of hedging risk in the acquisition of energy and the increase in own production contained the growth of costs on this front. “Total fixed costs ended the quarter 22% higher than in the same quarter last year, due essentially to personnel costs and the increase in running costs involved in scaling up operations in the post-pandemic context,” explains the company.
The robust growth in sales allowed earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to rise 72.3% year-on-year and 11.8% sequentially to 121.6 million. The EBITDA margin reached 25%.
Profit jumped 115.2% to 50.6 million in relation to the first three months of last year, but fell 11.5% on the 57.2 million earned between October and December. Navigator’s net debt fell €105.7 million to €517.9 million or 1.28 times EBITDA.
Looking ahead, the company headed by António Redondo stresses that “cost evolution remains a major concern. During the first quarter Navigator still benefited from contracts in which prices were fixed in 2021, so inflationary pressures will continue to be felt in the company’s business”.