Stora Enso said on Tuesday it had not yet seen any sustained recovery in the markets after the world's second biggest paper and board producer posted weaker first-quarter profits, Reuters reports.
"Although markets are showing the first signs of more favourable conditions, a clearer upturn will be needed before the financial results for the group improve," Stora Enso said in a statement.
It said January-March pre-tax profits fell 44 per cent year-on-year to €240.5 million ($213.4 million), but eased only slightly versus the already weak fourth-quarter result.
The result beat the median forecast of 218 million euros in a Reuters poll but was within the range of estimates. Stora Enso shares traded one percent lower at 14.23 euros on a negative Helsinki bourse, largely unmoved by the result.
Like its North American and Nordic rivals, Stora Enso has been dogged by weak demand for paper as the global economic slowdown has slashed advertising revenues at its newspaper and magazine-publishing clients.
"For the time being, advertisement volumes remain weak and there are no signs of a sustained improvement in the market for graphic papers,"Stora Enso said.
"With added pressure of imported coated papers, the situation is more challenging in the U.S. than in Europe," it added.
Finnish-Swedish Stora Enso is the first of the big Nordic papermakers to report first-quarter results. Its report followed a return to profitability in the quarter by industry leader International Paper of the United States.
Stora Enso's first-quarter net sales fell to 3.23 billion euros from 3.64 billion euros a year ago, while earnings per share fell 42 per cent to 0.18 euros in the first quarter.