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Cascades Reports Results for the Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2022

Mario Plourde "We are pleased with our fourth quarter consolidated performance, which showed continued positive momentum in our Tissue Papers segment, and good underlying performance in our packaging segments." – Mario Plourde, President and CEO, Cascades.

Feb. 23, 2023 - Cascades Inc. reports its unaudited financial results for the three-month period and fiscal year ended December 31, 2022.

Mario Plourde, President and CEO, commented, "We are pleased with our fourth quarter consolidated performance, which showed continued positive momentum in our Tissue Papers segment, and good underlying performance in our packaging segments. The wide-ranging profitability and operational initiatives that we have been progressively implementing throughout our operations gained traction as the year progressed, and fuelled the 10.2% consolidated EBITDA (A) margins in Q4.

"Our operations have faced more than $475 million of production, raw material, freight and energy cost headwinds within the span of the calendar year 2022 alone, and our teams have done an excellent job at executing multiple countermeasures. These have taken longer in our Tissue Papers segment, where price rebalancing takes time to be realized, but we are encouraged by the progress being made and expect continued benefits to be generated from operational and profitability initiatives across our operations.

"Our Containerboard segment generated solid results in the fourth quarter. As expected, sales decreased 5% sequentially, reflecting slightly softer shipment levels and average selling prices. These impacts were more than mitigated at the EBITDA (A) level by benefits from lower raw material pricing, more favourable FX, production and energy cost levels, and a $5 million partial insurance settlement related to water effluent treatment issues that occurred at our Niagara Falls, NY complex in mid-2021.

"Sequentially, fourth quarter sales levels also decreased for our Specialty Products business, largely driven by lower volumes in the cardboard and plastics sub-segments, resulting in lower EBITDA (A) levels for this business.

"Sales in our Tissue Papers segment were stable sequentially. This reflected higher selling prices and favourable FX, offset by lower volumes. This business doubled its EBITDA (A) as benefits from lower transportation costs, lower raw material costs and pricing initiatives mitigated the impact from lower volumes and higher production costs, the latter of which includes the impact of the temporary curtailment of one of our paper machines at our St. Helens, Oregon, tissue facility since mid-September.

"Lastly, Corporate Activities generated a higher negative EBITDA (A) in the fourth quarter, a reflection of the impact that lower recycled paper prices and volume had on results in the Company's Recovery & Recycling operations.

Bear Island Project

"The start-up of the Bear Island project is scheduled for the end of March," Mr. Plourde said. "Capital investments for this project totaled $107 million in the fourth quarter and $335 million in the calendar year 2022. The Company expects to invest $175 million to complete the project in 2023, with these investments weighted to the first half of the year. As we have stated previously, the elevated capital investment levels for this project combined with lower profitability levels generated by our Tissue Papers segment resulted in an important increase in our leverage ratio in 2022. We expect this trend to reverse as production is ramped up at our Bear Island facility, and operational and financial performance of our Tissue Papers segment continue to improve."

PaperAge editor's note: The Bear Island project involves the conversion of an idled newsprint machine (PM 1) at Cascades' pulp and paper mill in Ashland, Virginia, to produce containerboard (recycled linerboard and medium grades). Go to a related article at PaperAge: Cascades Revises Investment Total of Bear Island Machine Conversion Project - Aug. 8, 2022.

Near-term Outlook

Discussing near-term outlook, Mr. Plourde commented, "We are remaining prudent in our outlook, as macro-economic conditions continue to be challenging and unpredictable, and inflationary pressures on costs, while easing, continue. Despite this, we have started 2023 in a good position to drive growth throughout the year.

"We expect sequentially lower results in our Containerboard segment in Q1. This reflects the $5 million partial insurance settlement received in the current quarter and a continuation of slightly softer volume and selling prices, the impacts of which will not be offset by lower raw material cost tailwinds.

"The Specialty Products business is expected to generate moderately stronger results in the first quarter, as favourable trends in pricing and volume counter the persistently higher production cost environment.

"Lastly, we expect results in our Tissue Papers segment to slightly improve sequentially. While we anticipate continued positive momentum from operational and profitability initiatives, more favourable raw material prices, and good demand from retail tissue products, our tempered outlook for this segment reflects softer demand for Away-from-Home products, and the delayed restart of the machine at our St. Helens, Oregon, facility that occurred on February 10. As far as our longer-term outlook, we will provide a comprehensive update of our 2022- 2024 Strategic Plan in conjunction with our Q1 2023 results on May 11, 2023," Mr. Plourde concluded.

Cascades complete Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2022 report can be found on the company's website:

Founded in 1964, Cascades (TSX: CAS) offers sustainable, innovative and value-added packaging, hygiene and recovery solutions. The company employs more than 11,700 women and men across a network of 85 facilities in North America and Europe.

SOURCE: Cascades Inc.

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