Cascades announces solid results for Q1 2020 and its expectations for the coming months

The Canadian producer of fibre-based packaging solutions and hygiene products Cascades Inc. reported strong results for the first quarter of this year, with a 7% sales increase and CA$90 million operating income.

Mr. Mario Plourde, President and CEO, commented:

“Our first quarter results are a testament to the dedication and hard work of every one of our employees during these challenging times. We are very proud of their commitment to support our customers and communities by ensuring that our facilities meet the heightened demand for the essential tissue and packaging products we produce. Within this difficult context, first quarter sales increased 7% from the prior quarter. This reflected improvements in all business segments, most notably in Tissue, European Boxboard and specific Specialty Packaging products as a result of consumer buying patterns related to Covid-19 and strategic actions taken in recent quarters. Sales growth of 7% year-over-year was largely driven by increases in Tissue, which benefited from higher volumes and favourable average selling price, sales mix and exchange rate. Containerboard sales also increased year-over-year, as higher volumes and a beneficial exchange rate offset the impacts from a less favourable sales mix and lower average selling price. Sales in European Boxboard decreased slightly year-over-year largely due to lower average selling prices, while lower sales in Specialty Products reflect a business divestiture and mill closure in 2019.

First quarter adjusted OIBD of CA$161 million, which is net of a CA$10 million expected credit loss provision taken against accounts receivable amounts across our business segments, increased 6% sequentially and 19% compared to the prior year period. The sequential performance was driven by improved results in Tissue that reflected volume growth combined with a higher average selling price. Stronger sequential performances from the European Boxboard and Specialty Packaging segments also benefited from volume growth. European Boxboard results also reflected lower raw material pricing and lower average selling prices, while the reverse was true for Specialty Packaging. The year-over-year growth was entirely attributable to the improved performance in the Tissue segment.”

Discussing near-term outlook, Mr. Plourde commented:

“At this time we expect second quarter performance to be the result of a combination of tailwinds and headwinds in our different business segments. Specifically, Tissue results will reflect elevated raw material prices due to higher white recycled grade fibre costs and a greater use of virgin pulp due to lower levels of available recycled material. Containerboard margins are also expected to be impacted by higher OCC prices. Volumes in both Tissue and Containerboard are also forecasted to slow sequentially following an easing of the Covid-19 related pantry stocking trends seen in the first quarter and lower demand levels following business closures. Near-term Specialty Product performance is expected to reflect stronger consumer packaging trends, the effects of which should offset softness in industrial packaging. Boxboard Europe results are expected to increase slightly, supported by steady demand and announced industry price increases.

(…) Given the uncertainty regarding the potential impact from the Covid-19 pandemic over the coming months, we are focused on prudent cash flow management, and have therefore reduced planned capital expenditures to a range of CA$175 to CA$200 million for the year, down from CA$250 million previously, but are maintaining our current dividend policy. Analysis of our Bear Island conversion project has continued at a slower pace given current circumstances, and as such we will not be providing any updated specifics or schedule at this time.”