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Orkla reports improved operating profit

CFO Terje Andersen, CEO Orkla Brands Torkild Nordberg, President & CEO Åge Korsvold and CEO Sapa Svein Tore Holsether

Orkla’s operating profit (EBITA) increased by 13% to NOK 888 million in the first quarter of 2012, compared with the first quarter of last year. Results are in line with the preliminary figures published on Monday, 30 April. Orkla Brands had underlying growth in revenues, and maintained its overall market shares. The improvement measures implemented by Sapa Heat Transfer and market growth and productivity improvements for Sapa Profiles North America made a positive contribution. Sapa Profiles Europe is still affected by weak markets.

Profit for Orkla Brands was on a par with last year. Volumes for grocery channel sales increased and market shares were maintained, while profit was reduced by the loss of contract sales to industrial and export customers. All in all, there was 4% underlying growth in sales in the quarter. The timing of Easter had a positive impact on profit, but this was counteracted by high advertising investments.

Sapa Heat Transfer posted improved profit compared to fourth quarter of 2011 as a result of the implementation of improvement measures in Sweden and the transfer of volumes to the factory in Shanghai. Sapa Profiles North America continues to increase its market shares in a growing market, although there is pressure on prices in some segments. Reduced demand and lower margins, particularly in Southern Europe, pulled profit down. The restructuring of the profiles business in Europe is on track, and the changes will gradually take effect throughout the year.

Borregaard has delivered yet another strong first quarter. The industrial operations were separated from the hydro power business on 1 April. Preparations are in full progress for listing the company on the stock exchange, and industrial buyers have also been contacted for a possible sale of the business.

The process of selling off the shares in the Share Portfolio continues, and shares were sold for a total of NOK 1,050 million in the quarter. The return on the Share Portfolio was 12.9% in the quarter, about 2% percentage-points higher than the return on the Oslo Stock Exchange Benchmark Index. Gains on the sale of real estate contributed EBITA of around NOK 100 million in the quarter.