Outokumpu CEO's review

Outokumpu's President and CEO Heikki Malinen commented company's results in Financial Statements release 2023:
Page last updated: 08.02.2024

Our performance in 2023 was solid and our adjusted EBITDA amounted to EUR 517 million. During the year, we saw a shift in the market environment, and the second half of the year was challenging. Distributor de-stocking came close to its end in the second quarter, but the stainless steel market remained muted still in the last quarter. In 2023, our stainless steel deliveries declined by 9% from the previous year reflecting a weaker market. We have taken prompt, preventative measures to restore our profitability across the company.

The European market clearly declined in the second quarter, and the third quarter was the lowest point for business area Europe. Since then, market recovery has been slow.  For business area Europe, our annual adjusted EBITDA amounted to EUR 148 million and stainless steel deliveries decreased by 4% from the previous year. Profitability was negatively impacted by substantially lower stainless steel prices and our result decreased from the exceptionally high levels in 2021 and 2022.

In the Americas, the market environment remained relatively strong in 2023 and started to weaken only toward the end of the year. The year was solid for business area Americas, and we generated EUR 285 million of adjusted EBITDA even though our stainless steel deliveries declined by 16% from the previous year. I am proud that we have managed to establish our position in the Americas market and our geographically diversified asset portfolio makes us more resilient.

For business area Ferrochrome, annual adjusted EBITDA amounted to EUR 96 million. The Ferrochrome market weakened in the second half of the year and, therefore, in January 2024, we took the decision to adjust our ferrochrome production to match the lower demand. We also proceeded towards our target of carbon neutrality at the Kemi mine. This is an important aim for us as our in-house produced ferrochrome enables us to produce stainless steel with the lowest carbon footprint in the industry.

Throughout the year, we diligently executed our strategy and announced four key focus areas for the upcoming third phase of the strategy: Americas expansion, European competitiveness, value-chain integration, and sustainability, including the possible biocoke investment.

As part of the Americas expansion, we evaluated building of our own hot rolling mill in Calvert, Alabama, but decided that continuing with the current hot rolling partnership is the best solution for Outokumpu and its shareholders. We will continue to assess the cold rolling capacity expansion, which would allow us to increase our deliveries in the attractive North American market, and foresee decisions within a year.

In 2023, we announced many great Outokumpu Circle Green® partnerships with our customers, who want to reduce their emissions. The carbon footprint of Outokumpu Circle Green® is up to 93% lower than the global industry average representing the lowest carbon footprint ever achieved in commercial stainless steel production. Strong customer interest in this product proves that we are taking our business in the right direction.

In 2023, we formed new partnerships with junior mining and development company FPX Nickel, biocarbon producer Envigas and scrap supplier CRONIMET to ensure a sufficient future supply of critical raw materials with a low carbon footprint.

The strong focus on energy efficiency continued throughout the year. It is clear already now that we will exceed our 8% energy efficiency improvement target but with a longer timeframe than originally anticipated. So far, our actions have resulted in savings of EUR 10 million. In 2023, our emissions were reduced successfully in line with the SBTi climate target.

The year 2023 reflects our great co-operation as a team full of resilience and dedication. I am especially proud of our world-class safety performance which achieved a new record of TRIFR 1.5. Although market conditions shifted, we took immediate actions to restore our profitability while also keeping safety as our top priority. In 2023, we kept the company net debt free, and our business delivered solid cash flow. With the strongest balance sheet in the industry, we are ready to face more challenging market conditions which are a natural part of the cyclical stainless steel industry.

I am happy to say that our Board of Directors has today proposed a dividend of EUR 0.26 per share to be paid for the year 2023. Together with our ongoing share buyback program, this reflects our strong commitment to shareholder returns.

I want to thank all our employees and stakeholders for the good collaboration and teamwork in 2023. Let’s continue the good work also in 2024!."