2007-08-23 08:01:14 CEST

2007-08-23 08:01:14 CEST


Aspo - Half Year financial report


ASPO Plc    STOCK EXCHANGE BULLETIN    August 23, 2007 at 9:00 a.m.

Net sales grew to EUR 128.8 million, the operating profit was EUR
17.4 million

- Aspo Group's net sales in January-June were EUR 128.8 million (EUR
102.5 million)
- The operating profit totaled EUR 17.4 million (EUR 4.0 million)
including a non-recurring sales profit of EUR 10.2 million from sale
of vessel
- The profit before tax was EUR 16.3 million (EUR 3.1 million)
- The earnings per share totaled EUR 0.47 (EUR 0.09)
- Prospects for fiscal 2007 continue to be positive


                                   1-6/07 1-6/06 1-12/06

Net sales, MEUR                     128.8  102.5   225.9
Operating profit, MEUR               17.4    4.0    12.8
Share of net sales, %                13.5    3.9     5.7
Profit before tax, MEUR              16.3    3.1    11.1
Share of net sales, %                12.7    3.0     4.9

Earnings per share, EUR              0.47   0.09    0.32
Diluted earnings per share, EUR      0.43   0.09    0.31
Comparable earnings per share, EUR   0.18   0.09    0.31
Equity per share, EUR                2.34   1.98    2.26
Equity ratio, %                      41.9   39.0    45.2
Gearing, %                           50.0   59.4    35.7
Personnel at the end of period        695    718     694

Gustav Nyberg, CEO of Aspo:"Aspo's business developed very favorably during the second quarter.
The market situation remained positive, allowing for continued and
strong growth.

In January-June, all divisions were able to increase their net sales
and improve their earnings performance. Profitability of the whole
Aspo Group improved compared with the corresponding period last year.

The integration of the business acquisition the Chemicals Division
made early in the year was completed successfully. The acquisition
increased net sales and profitability in chemical distribution and
thus strengthened Aspo's position on the Nordic markets.

Ms Arkadia, which was sold by the Shipping Division, was delivered to
her new owner. The deal resulted in a sales profit of approximately
EUR 10 million, which was recorded for the second quarter.

The outlook for 2007 in general remains positive."


The market situation during the beginning of 2007 was strong and
steady. The price of crude oil remained at an all-time high while the
prices of chemicals continued to rise slightly. Strong business
conditions persisted in the Shipping Division's markets globally. The
increase in fuel prices and strong demand increased freight prices.

Powerful growth continued in operations in eastern markets,
contributing to the two-digit growth in the Group's overall net
sales. The figures for the Danish Wilfert Chemical Nordic A/S
acquired by the Chemicals Division were consolidated as of the
beginning of the year, which further boosted the growth in net sales.

The Group's operational profitability in the second quarter improved
further, and in January-June, rose compared with last year. TThe
operating profit percentage improved and approached the target level.

Aspo Chemicals

The Aspo Chemicals Division consists of Aspokem Ltd and its
subsidiaries. They distribute, store and market chemicals and plastic
raw materials in Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia,
Lithuania, Russia and Ukraine. The Division engages in processing
activities in Finland and Latvia. Aspokem is also engaged in
East-West chemical trading.

                         1-6/07 1-6/06 1-12/06

Net Sales, MEUR            60.3   40.4    89.1
Operating Profit, MEUR      1.9    1.3     2.7
Personnel                   128    101     104

The global price trend in petrochemicals continued on a slight upward
track. There were no major problems with the availability of raw
materials, and sales volumes continued to grow.

The Chemicals Division's net sales grew strongly. In Scandinavia, net
sales picked up mainly due to the business acquisition made at the
beginning of the year, but also comparable sales clearly increased.
Sales saw strong growth in the Baltic countries and particularly in
Russia and Ukraine. The Division's profitability during the first
half of the year was slightly better than the year before. Due to the
increased sales, operating profit clearly grew.

In terms of product groups, the development varied considerably in
different market areas. Plastics and automotive chemicals witnessed
the greatest development. Of all market areas, Russia accounted for
the strongest growth.

During the period under review, preparations were made for starting
up business in Belarus. The organization was strengthened both in
Finland and Sweden.

Early in the year the Chemicals Division acquired the entire capital
stock of the Danish Wilfert Chemical Nordic A/S. Founded in 1984, the
company employs 10 people and is primarily engaged in the
distribution of plastic raw materials in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and
Finland.  Last year the company recorded net sales of approximately
EUR 21 million and an operating profit of some EUR 0.6 million. In
accordance with the agreement, business operations were immediately
transferred to the buyer and the figures have been consolidated as of
the beginning of the year.

Aspo Shipping

The Aspo Shipping Division consists of ESL Shipping and its
subsidiaries and affiliate. ESL Shipping is the leading dry bulk sea
transport company operating in the Baltic Sea area. As of the end of
the period the fleet operated by the company comprised 19 units.

                         1-6/07 1-6/06 1-12/06

Net Sales, MEUR            42.4   38.3    82.7
Operating Profit, MEUR     17.1    4.7    12.6
Personnel                   242    253     257

In the global bulk freight markets demand was strong and in some
cases freight rates even continued to rise. The market situation in
the Baltic Sea area also remained strong and freight rates continued
to rise, partly due to higher fuel prices.

During the review period, the Shipping Division's transport capacity
diminished slightly when the biggest vessel of the fleet was sold.
However, Shipping managed to enhance the efficiency of its fleet
operations and thus improve profitability compared with the first
half of last year. There were fewer of the cargo availability
problems that hampered operations last year but some of them still

Due to the sale of Ms Arkadia, net sales for the second quarter were
only slightly better than last year. Due to the sale of the vessel, a
non-recurring sales profit of EUR 10.2 million was recorded for the
second quarter, which remarkably improved the Division's earnings.

The proportion of steel and other sectors of industry in overall
transport volumes grew, while the proportion of the energy industry

The investment program in the Shipping Division proceeded as planned
during the first half of the year. The first of the two 20,000 dwt
vessels that are being constructed in India should be commissioned
next summer, with the other due in 2009.

Aspo Systems

The Aspo Systems Division comprises Autotank Ltd and its
subsidiaries. Autotank is the leading Nordic supplier of service
station maintenance services and automated dispensing systems.
Autotank has subsidiaries in Sweden, Norway, Estonia, Latvia,
Lithuania and Poland, as well as a joint venture in Russia.

                         1-6/07 1-6/06 1-12/06

Net Sales, MEUR            26.1   23.8    54.1
Operating Profit, MEUR     -0.3   -1.2    -1.0
Personnel                   308    325     323

Several service station chain owner changes and the need for
technology investments kept the market situation in the Baltic region
lively during the second quarter of the year.

Deliveries of the equipment and software required for the chip card
introduction continued and we received new equipment orders almost as
planned. The demand for fuel dispensing equipment was good and the
deliveries even surpassed the set goals, especially in eastern

Net sales continued to grow moderately. Due to the cyclic nature of
operations, profitability improved during the second quarter and the
result showed a profit. However, the result was not sufficient to
cover the losses accrued during the first quarter, so earnings in the
first six months fell short of the targets. This was mainly due to
the Swedish markets where tough competition in service station
maintenance kept operations heavily unprofitable.

Thanks to the efficiency improvement program carried out last year in
the Systems Division, profitability clearly improved on the previous


Aspo Group's net sales for January-June 2007 amounted to EUR 128.8
million compared with EUR 102.5 million in the corresponding period
last year. All Divisions were able to increase their net sales over
the previous year.

Net Sales by Division, MEUR

                     4-6/07 4-6/06 Change 1-6/07 1-6/06 1-12/2006

Chemicals              30.4   20.3   10.1   60.3   40.4      89.1
Shipping               20.6   20.1    0.5   42.4   38.3      82.7
Systems                14.7   13.1    1.6   26.1   23.8      54.1
TOTAL                  65.7   53.5   12.2  128.8  102.5     225.9


Aspo Group recorded an operating profit of EUR 17.4 million or 13.5%
of net sales including a non-recurring sales profit of EUR 10.2
million (EUR 4.0 million, or 3.9% of net sales). Planned depreciation
totaled EUR 5.0 million (EUR 4.4 million). The Group's net financial
costs amounted to EUR 1.1 million (EUR 0.9 million).

The profit before taxes was EUR 16.3 million (EUR 3.1 million) and
the net profit for the period totaled EUR 12.1 million (EUR 2.3

Operating Profit by Division, MEUR

                       4-6/07 4-6/06 Change 1-6/07 1-6/06 1-12/2006

Chemicals                 0.9    0.6    0.3    1.9    1.3       2.7
Shipping                 13.5    2.2   11.3   17.1    4.7      12.6
Systems                   0.5   -0.1    0.6   -0.3   -1.2      -1.0
Group Administration     -0.5   -0.5    0.0   -1.3   -0.8      -1.5
TOTAL                    14.4    2.2   12.2   17.4    4.0      12.8


The Group invested EUR 9.1 million in January-June, 2007, (EUR 13.4
million) primarily in Chemicals Division's business acquisition and
advance payments on Shipping Division's vessel purchases.

Investments by Division, MEUR

                       4-6/07 4-6/06 1-6/07 1-6/06 1-12/06

Chemicals                 0.0    0.1    4.8    1.1     1.3
Shipping                  1.4    1.2    3.8   11.8     7.3
Systems                   0.1    0.3    0.4    0.4     1.4
Group Administration      0.1           0.1    0.1     0.2
TOTAL                     1.6    1.6    9.1   13.4    10.2


The Group's financial situation was healthy. Liquid assets totaled
EUR 8.3 million (EUR 9.0 million) at the end of the period. There was
a total of EUR 38.6 million (EUR 38.8 million) in interest-bearing
liabilities on the consolidated balance sheet at the end of the
period. Interest-free liabilities totaled EUR 38.5 million (EUR 29.6
million). The Group's gearing was 50.0% (59.4%) and the equity ratio
adjusted for deferred tax liabilities was 41.9% (39.0%).

The increase in the Group's working capital during the review period
was caused by the acquisition of the chemicals business, the growth
of business in Russia and Ukraine, and the increased current assets
and receivables in the Systems Division's Swedish subsidiary.

Aki Ojanen, eMBA, has been appointed Chief Operating Officer and
Deputy CEO of Aspo Plc, starting from October 1, 2007.


Aspo Group's personnel averaged 688 (688) from January 1 to June 30,
2007, compared with 693 for the entire financial year 2006.

Average Personnel by Division

                                1-6/07 1-6/06 1-12/06

Chemicals                          128    101     104
Shipping                           242    253     257
Systems                            308    325     323
Group Administration                10      9       9
TOTAL                              688    688     693


From January to June 2007 a total of 2,759,508 Aspo Plc shares worth
EUR 19.8 million were traded on the OMX Nordic Exchange in Helsinki,
or 10.6% of the stock changed hands. During the period, the stock
reached a high of EUR 7.80 and a low of EUR 6.70. The average price
was EUR 7.17 and the closing price EUR 6.81. The market
capitalization excluding treasury shares was EUR 175.7 million.

At the end of the period, Aspo Plc's registered share capital was EUR
17,457,886.17 and the number of shares was 26,057,043. The company
held 252,410 of its own shares, representing 0.97 percent of Aspo
Plc's share capital. During the period, the company disposed of
100,840 Aspo Plc shares in partial payment for the Chemicals'
acquisition and 5,000 shares in accordance with the company's
management incentive program.

At the end of the period, the number of Aspo Plc shareholders was
4,866. A total of 697,975 shares, or 2.7% of the total share capital
were nominee registered or held by non-domestic shareholders.



At the Annual Shareholders' Meeting on March 29, 2007, the
shareholders approved a dividend of EUR 0.41 per share as proposed by
the Board. The dividend payment date was set at April 12, 2007.

Board of Directors and Auditors

Matti Arteva, Kari Haavisto, Esa Karppinen, Roberto Lencioni and Kari
Stadigh were re-elected as Board members for one year. Mr. Stadigh
will carry on as Chairman and Mr. Arteva as Vice-Chairman of the

The authorized public accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers Oy was
re-elected as the auditor of the company. Jouko Malinen, APA, will
continue as the auditor in charge.

Board Authorizations

At the Annual Shareholders' Meeting the shareholders authorized the
Board to decide on a share issue and on the acquisition of
company-held shares. The authorizations will be valid until the
Annual Shareholders' Meeting in 2008 but not more than 18 months from
the approval at the Shareholders' Meeting.

At the Board meeting held on June 26, 2007, the Board decided to
acquire a maximum of 400,000 of the company's own shares through
public trading on the OMX Nordic Exchange in Helsinki at the current
market price at the point of acquisition within the terms stated in
the regulations of the OMX Nordic Exchange in Helsinki. The shares
will be acquired for the financing or execution of corporate
acquisitions or other transactions, for the balancing of the
financial risk in the company's share-based incentive scheme or for
other purposes to be decided by the Board.


All of Aspo's Divisions are maintaining a positive outlook for this
year. We expect to see continued growth in net sales from the Group's
ongoing operations, and the acquisition made by the Chemicals
Division early this year is expected to further boost the growth.
Furthermore, the Group's units in the eastern markets appear to show
sustained growth. The Group's operating profit is expected to improve
on the previous year.


The global chemicals markets have seen considerable price
fluctuations in the past few years, and these are expected to
continue. Manufacturers are severely cutting the production capacity
for low-profit products. As demand exceeds supply, prices tend to
rise quickly. The fluctuations in crude oil prices and the dollar are
likely to continue.

The Chemicals Division appears to be continuing on a growth track in
the near-eastern markets. The business acquisition strengthened the
Division's position in the Scandinavian markets, and it is expected
to have a positive impact on the Division's performance this year and
in the longer term.

According to our current estimates, the Division has every
opportunity to improve on last year's operating profit.

The biggest risks for the Chemicals Division have to do with the
potential negative effects of the European Union's chemical
regulation (REACH). In the worst-case scenario, the legislation will
restrict the manufacture and use of chemicals in the European Union.
Other risks include political and financial instability in Russia and


The international freight market is expected to remain stronger than
on average, at least for the time being. Brisk demand for freight
transport is expected in the Baltic Sea as well.

The Shipping Division's transport capacity was diminished slightly
after the handover of the Ms Arkadia, but this is not expected to
significantly affect the Division's net sales. Ms Credo, the new
vessel commissioned last year, has now been successfully integrated
into the fleet and, as a result, improved efficiency is expected in
the shipping company this year.

The Shipping Division also has good chances of improving its
profitability this year, provided it does not face the availability
problems that occurred last year. No major changes are expected in
the full-year net sales.

Foreign exchange risks associated with the shipping business have
mostly been hedged by forward contracts; our customer contracts
include special bunker clauses  to protect ourselves against the
risks associated with the fluctuation in fuel prices.


We expect to see sustained and brisk market conditions in the fuel
distribution business in 2007. In addition to technology investments,
other developments supporting this view include the growing
distribution of new fuel mixtures as well as the consolidation of the

Deliveries of the equipment required for the chip card introduction
picked up pace in the first half of the year. The Systems Division's
order book shows improvement on the previous year. We also expect to
see moderate growth in net sales as the year moves on. We expect to
see profitability improvements towards year-end, and to see the
operations generate profit.

Helsinki, August 23, 2007

Board of Directors


                              4-6/07       4-6/06

                                MEUR     %   MEUR     %

NET SALES                       65.7 100.0   53.5 100.0
Other operating income          10.2  15.5    0.1   0.2
Depreciation and write-downs    -2.6  -4.0   -2.4  -4.5

OPERATING PROFIT                14.4  21.9    2.2   4.1

Financial income and expenses   -0.4  -0.6   -0.7  -1.3

PROFIT BEFORE TAXES             13.9  21.2    1.6   3.0

PROFIT FOR THE PERIOD           10.3  15.7    1.2   2.2

Profit attributable
to shareholders                 10.3          1.2
Minority interest

                              1-6/07       1-6/06       1-12/06

                                MEUR     %   MEUR     %    MEUR     %

NET SALES                      128.8 100.0  102.5 100.0   225.9 100.0
Other operating income          10.2   7.9    0.7   0.7     0.9   0.4
Depreciation and write-downs    -5.0  -3.9   -4.4  -4.3    -9.3  -4.1

OPERATING PROFIT                17.4  13.5    4.0   3.9    12.8   5.7

Financial income and expenses   -1.1  -0.9   -0.9  -0.9    -1.8  -0.8

PROFIT BEFORE TAXES             16.3  12.7    3.1   3.0    11.1   4.9

PROFIT FOR THE PERIOD           12.1   9.4    2.3   2.2     8.2   3.6

Profit attributable
to shareholders                 12.1          2.3           8.2
Minority interest

ASPO GROUP BALANCE SHEET         6/07  6/06 Change 12/06
                                 MEUR  MEUR      %  MEUR

Non-Current Assets
Intangible assets                 1.4   0.5  180.0   1.2
Goodwill                         10.5   8.2   28.0   8.2
Tangible assets                  53.7  63.3  -15.2  54.4
Available-for-sale assets         0.2   0.2    0.0   0.2
Long-term receivables             0.2   0.5  -60.0   2.3
Shares in associated companies    1.4   1.2   16.7   1.4
Total Non-Current Assets         67.4  73.9   -8.8  67.7

Current Assets
Inventories                      23.3  14.5   60.7  17.7
Sales and other receivables      47.7  31.9   49.5  34.9
Cash and bank deposits            8.3   9.0   -7.8   9.1
Total Current Assets             79.3  55.4   43.1  61.7
TOTAL ASSETS                    146.7 129.3   13.5 129.4


Shareholders' Equity
Share capital                    17.5  17.2    1.7  17.5
Other shareholders' equity       43.0  33.0   30.3  40.7
Shareholders' equity attributable
to equity holders of the parent  60.4  50.1   20.6  58.1
Minority interest                 0.1   0.1          0.1

Long-term liabilities            28.7  34.4  -16.6  28.7
Short-term liabilities           57.5  44.7   28.6  42.5
AND LIABILITIES                 146.7 129.3   13.5 129.4


A = Share Capital
B = Premium Fund
C = Fair Value Fund
D = Other Funds
E = Repurchased Shares
F = Translation Difference
G = Retained Earnings
H = Total
I = Minority Interest
J = Total Shareholders' Equity

MEUR              A      B    C     D   E    F    G     H    I   J
Balance at
31.12.2006        17.5   2.5  0.0   0.2 -1.8 0.1  39.7  58.1 0.1 58.2
differences                                  -0.1
Increase in
hedging reserve                     0.0
Share of
deferred taxes                      0.0
Net profit for
the period                                        12.1
Dividend payment                                  -10.5
Share disposal                      0.2 0.4
Conversion of
convertible bond
to shares         0.0    0.1
Balance at
30.6.2007         17.5   2.6  0.0   0.4 -1.4 0.0  41.3  60.4 0.1 60.5

Balance at
31.12.2005        17.2   0.5  0.3   0.2 -1.9 0.0  40.9  57.4 0.1 57.4
IAS 8 adjustment*)                                0.8
Balance at
1.1.2006          17.2   0.5  0.3   0.2 -1.9 0.0  41.7  58.2 0.1 58.3
differences                                  0.1             0.0
Amoount carried to
income statement              -0.4
Share of
deferred taxes                0.1
Net profit for
the period                                        2.3        0.0
Dividend payment                                  -10.1      0.0
Share disposal           0.0            0.0
Conversion of
convertible bond
to shares         0.0    0.0
Change in
minority interest                                 -0.1       0.1
Balance at
30.6.2006         17.2   0.5  0.0   0.2 -1.8 0.1  33.8  50.0 0.1 50.2

*) Comparative data has been adjusted with an IAS 8 compliant change
in accounting principles

Accounting principles

All figures are unaudited. This interim report has been prepared in
accordance with the IAS 34 (Interim Reports) standard. The accounting
principles that were applied in the preparation of the financial
statements of December 31, 2006 have been applied in the preparation
of this interim report. As of January 1, 2007, the Group has adopted
the following new standards: IFRS 7, Financial Instruments:
Disclosures and IAS 1 (amendment), Presentation of Financial
Statements. The Group estimates that the adoption of these standards
will have no material influence on the interim report.


                                          1-6/07 1-6/06 1-12/06
                                            MEUR   MEUR    MEUR

Net Operational Cash Flow                    0.1    6.9    12.3

Investments in tangible and
intangible assets                           -4.4  -13.2   -10.2
Gains on the sale of tangible
and intangible assets                       10.2    0.6     1.0
Purchases of subsidiary shares              -4.5
Purchases of affiliate shares                      -0.1
Total Cash Flow From Investments             1.3  -12.7    -9.2

Share disposal                               0.0            0.1
Change in short-term borrowings              8.7   11.5     7.2
Change in long-term receivables                            -0.1
Change in long-term borrowings              -0.4    0.9    -3.5
Dividends paid                             -10.6  -10.1   -10.2
Total Financing                             -2.3    2.3    -6.5

Effect from changes in exchange rates        0.1    0.0     0.0

Increase/Decrease in Liquid Funds           -0.8   -3.5    -3.4

Liquid funds at the beginning of the year    9.1   12.5    12.5
Liquid funds at period end                   8.3    9.0     9.1

                               1-6/07 1-6/06 1-12/06

Earnings/Share, EUR              0.47   0.09    0.32
Diluted Earnings/Share, EUR      0.43   0.09    0.31
Comparable Earnings/Share, EUR   0.18   0.09    0.31
Equity/Share, EUR                2.34   1.98    2.26
Equity Ratio, %                  41.9   39.0    45.2
Gearing, %                       50.0   59.4    35.7

Wilfert Business Combination, preliminary

Tangible assets                             0.1
Inventories                                 2.4
Sales and other receivables                 3.4
TOTAL ASSETS                                5.9

Long-term liabilities                       0.4
Short-term liabilities                      3.5

Net Assets                                  2.0
Goodwill arising from the  acquisition      2.4
TOTAL ACQUISITION COST                      4.4

The total acquisition cost of EUR 4.4 million comprise costs of EUR
0.1 million directly attributable to the acquisition. A part of the
acquisition cost (EUR 0.7 million) was paid in Aspo Plc shares.

Paid in cash                                                  -3.7
Overdraft limit of the acquired subsidiary       -0.8

Aspo Plc will publish Interim Report for the January-September period
on Thursday, October 25, 2007.


We have arranged a press conference for the analysts and media to be
held today starting at 11:00 a.m. at the following address:
Restaurant Palace Gourmet, Eteläranta 10, 00130 Helsinki.


Gustav Nyberg                       Dick Blomqvist
CEO                                      CFO

For further information, contact:
Gustav Nyberg, tel. +358 9 7595 256 or +358 40 503 6420

OMX Nordic Exchange
The Main Media

Aspo Group focuses on logistical services for industry. Aspo serves
businesses in the energy and industrial process sectors requiring
strong specialist and logistical know-how. Aspo's net sales in 2006
totaled EUR 225.9 million. About 39% of this came from Aspo
Chemicals, 37% from Aspo Shipping and 24% from Aspo Systems.