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Stora Enso, SSAB post record profits; Wärtsilä up by 53%

Three industrial heavy-hitters announced strong late-2021 sales on Friday.

Stora Enso's Oulu Mill, seen from across the Hartaanselkä bay in November. Image: Risto Degerman / Yle

For most Finnish listed companies, the coronavirus period, now entering its third year, has been profitable. That trend is continuing, based on fourth-quarter results announced on Friday.

For the whole of last year, forest products giant Stora Enso posted its best-ever operating result. It rose by 650 million euros to 1.5 billion euros. Net sales increased by 19 percent year-on-year to nearly 11 billion euros.

The end of 2021 brought the pulp and paper manufacturer's best quarterly result since the early 2000s, CEO Annica Bresky said in a press release. She took the helm in late 2019, just before the pandemic began.

The company had "managed global logistical disturbances and successfully implemented price increases to mitigate rising fibre, energy and other variable input costs," she said.

In the fourth quarter, operating profit surged to 426 million euros, from 118 million a year earlier. Net sales rose by 26 percent to 2.7 billion.

Wärtsilä: Market outlook uncertain

In October-December, engineering company Wärtsilä's operating profit shot up by 53 percent, to 158 million euros from 103 million in the corresponding period of 2020.

At the same time, Wärtsilä's net sales increased by 31 percent to 1.6 billion euros from 1.2 billion in the previous year.

Wärtsilä said it expects demand to be better in the first quarter of this year than in the same period last year, but added that prevailing market conditions make the outlook uncertain.

SSAB says it needs fossil-free electricity

Swedish-Finnish steelmaker SSAB also reported record profits. The company's operating profit was 700 million euros, compared with just under 600 million a year earlier.

SSAB Europe is headquartered in Hämeenlinna, south-central Finland. In 2014, SSAB bought one of Finland's biggest steel manufacturers, Rautaruukki, and is now partly owned by the Finnish state.

According to CEO Martin Lindqvist, 2021 was the best year in SSAB's history, and all divisions of the company achieved a record result. According to Lindqvist, the improvement was largely due to high steel prices.

SSAB announced plans to launch investments worth more than four billion euros at its plants in Finland and Sweden to accelerate its "green transition," based on the rapidly growing demand for fossil-free steel.

"The ambition is to eliminate virtually all carbon dioxide emissions 15 years earlier than the original plan announced earlier. However, for this to be done, the necessary infrastructure must be in place in time, as well as access to fossil-free electricity," it said on Friday.

SSAB's plant in Raahe is Finland's largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, but the company aims to introduce 'fossil free' production at the plant in the coming years, based on nuclear power.