Swedish pulp and paper manufacturer BillerudKorsnäs has reported that its net sales for the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2021 grew by 15% to Skr6.6bn ($710.2m).

The company attributed the growth to higher prices and an improved product mix.

Its adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased to Skr1.07bn.

During the quarter, BillerudKorsnäs generated an operating profit of Skr418m, which include items impacting comparability of Skr177m.

The company’s net profit for the quarter was Skr320m and its earnings per share (EPS) were Skr1.55.

BillerudKorsnäs president and CEO Christoph Michalski said: “In the year 2021, we made important progress.

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“Both the injury frequency rate (LTIFR) and the overall production stability improved, despite two major unplanned production stops in Gävle.

“Our net sales, excluding currency effects, grew by an impressive 12% and adjusted EBITDA were the highest in the company’s history.

“Operating profit strengthened and the net debt decreased. The Board of Directors proposes a dividend for the year of Skr4.30 per share, which corresponds to 60% of the net profit.

For the first quarter (Q1) of this year, BillerudKorsnäs expects market conditions to remain strong and costs of logistics, energy and chemicals to remain high.

Last year, the company published a strategy to 2030, which focuses on profitable and sustainable growth in packaging materials.

Michalski added: “As communicated at our capital markets day in November, we have set a strategy for profitable growth to 2030.

“Whilst Europe will still be our home market, we see great opportunities for growth in North America, specifically with cartonboard and containerboard.

“We will accelerate growth in liquid packaging board with selected opportunities.”

Last month, BillerudKorsnäs agreed to purchase North American speciality and packaging paper manufacturer Verso.

The acquisition is intended to support BillerudKorsnäs’ North American expansion plans and create growth opportunities in the paperboard segment.