StockMarketWire.com - Packaging and paper group Mondi posted a 16% increase in first-quarter earnings, driven by a combination of higher selling prices, strong operational performance and lower-than-expected planned maintenance shut costs, as well as contributions from completed capital expenditure projects in 2018.

Underlying Ebitda for the period from 31 December 2018 to 31 March 2019 was €471m, up 16% year on year and 6% quarter on quarter.

Like-for-like sales volumes were marginally lower than the comparable prior-year period and higher than the previous quarter. Selling prices for the Group's key paper grades were, on average, higher than the comparable prior year period and stable on the previous quarter.

Costs, meanwhile, were marginally higher than the comparable prior year period and flat on the previous quarter. Among key input costs, wood, energy and chemical costs were higher than the comparable prior year period. The notable exception was paper for recycling costs, where, as a result of changes to Chinese import policies, average benchmark European prices were down 24% compared to the first quarter of 2018.

The estimated impact on underlying Ebitda of maintenance shuts completed during the period was around €15m (2018: €35m). Based on prevailing market prices, the firm estimated that the impact of maintenance shuts on underlying Ebitda for 2019 would be around €150m (2018: €110 million), in line with its previous estimate, of which around €90m will be incurred in the first half of the year (H1 2018: €55m).

"While macro-economic uncertainties remain, our focus on delivering value-accretive growth and our performance-driven culture means we are confident of continuing to deliver a strong and industry leading performance," the company said.

At 8:31am: [LON:MNDI] Mondi PLC share price was -20.5p at 1624.5p



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