Stora Enso has posted an annual net loss of €878m including non-recurring items, but CEO Jouko Karvinen said the business ended 2009 on a strong note.

The fourth quarter represented a clear improvement on a year ago, with net profits of €45.9m (2008: €654m loss).

The wood products division saw its annual operating loss narrow to €8m (2008: €67.5m loss), with sales reducing to €1.23bn (2008: €1.5bn).

However, the division’s performance certainly strengthened in the final two quarters. Operating profits of €9.4m in the third quarter increased to €15m in the fourth, with sawn deliveries also rising from 1.190 million m³ to 1.298 million m³ respectively.

Total wood product deliveries for 2009 were 4.902 million m³ (2008: 5.893 million m³).

Mr Karvinen said the year’s highlight was stronger cash flow from operations of €1.26bn, while two-thirds of capital expenditure was financed through working capital improvement of €500m. He said the group “could have hoped for an easier 2010”.

He said Stora Enso would continue to take new measures when needed to defend earnings through proactive business mix and capacity management.

“Our production capacity needs to be in line with sustainably profitable demand for our products, and we will therefore not hesitate to take further temporary or permanent capacity cuts if necessary,” he said.

Mr Karvinen predicted wood product demand to be better this year.