Metso’s orders and sales held up in the March quarter in the face of the onset of COVID-19, with the company saying activity in its mining equipment business continued in line with expectations.
The company posted a 5% year-on-year increase in orders received to €1.07 billion ($1.15 billion), while its sales were unchanged at €832 million. Its operating profit dropped to €73 million, from €100 million a year earlier, but it was still able to generate free cash flow of €78 million during the three-month period.
Metso said the measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 started to have a material impact on its businesses and financial performance only towards the end of the March quarter. It was around this time that the company outlined its COVID-19 strategy.
“In February, the businesses and operations in China were affected but this impact was offset later, thanks to a fast ramp-up in March,” it said. “Quarterly orders from China were higher year-on-year, while the drop in sales will take longer to catch up.”
Lockdowns were introduced in mid-March in other countries, with the restrictions in India having had the biggest impact on Metso, it noted. There was some positive news, with, as of mid-April, operations in India and South Africa being permitted to ramp up.
In terms of customer demand, Metso said, from mid-March, the biggest COVID-19-related impact came from its aggregates equipment business, where customers and distributors significantly reduced their investments.
The mining equipment business, however, continued in line with expectations.
“The importance of the mining operations for many countries has been visible in the continued healthy demand for spare and wear parts,” Metso said, while noting that restrictions relating to travel and workforce mobility have had an impact on mining services by limiting service work carried out at customers’ mines.
Its Minerals business saw a 6% year-on-year jump in orders received in the March quarter, while services orders rose 5%. Growth of 8% in equipment orders was supported by the acquisition of McCloskey, it said, noting that mining equipment orders increased slightly against a high comparison period, “highlighting the healthy market activity.”
Metso reaffirmed that its partial demerger and the transaction to create Metso Outotec and Neles continue to progress according to plan, with closing currently expected to take place on June 30, 2020, subject to regulatory approvals.