“ In 2022, we delivered the best financial result in our history and reached an amazing milestone – Outokumpu is now net debt free. I am very proud of our relentless work towards this goal. Outokumpu’s full-year adjusted EBITDA increased to a record level of EUR 1.3 billion.
I want to express my heartfelt thanks to all our team members around the world for their contribution and thank our customers and suppliers for their good collaboration during a year when supply chains were under pressure.
After two years of exceptional tailwinds in the market, we have now moved into a period of weakening in the global economy. Volume-wise, the year 2022 started strongly. However, towards the end of the year, volumes dropped and overall stainless steel deliveries declined by 7% from the previous year. Our adjusted EBITDA reached EUR 110 million in the fourth quarter.
In business areas Europe and Americas, high Asian imports, significant distributor de-stocking and declining demand impacted the results negatively in the last quarter. In Europe, distributor de-stocking seems to be coming to an end, while in Americas it is expected to continue through the first quarter of 2023. Business area Ferrochrome suffered from high electricity prices and, as a consequence, its production is limited to 50–60% of its total capacity.
During times like these, it is crucial we have a strong balance sheet. I am pleased to say that Outokumpu is now financially stronger than ever and resilient enough to withstand the changing conditions in the market environment.
During the year, we have taken strong actions to maintain and further improve our position as the sustainability leader in the stainless steel industry. We reduced CO2 emissions in line with our 1.5°C science-based climate target and reached an all-time high recycled material content of 94% for the full year.
In 2022, we launched the industry’s first emission minimized stainless steel, Outokumpu Circle Green. I was delighted to see strong customer interest in low-carbon products. We are now looking into expanding our emission minimized offering to cover more grades to serve even more of our customer segments with the greenest stainless steel in the world.
On the regulatory side, comprehensive political agreement was reached in the EU regarding the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) to include CO2 emissions from not only direct emissions but also precursor materials to limit carbon leakage outside the European Union. This is an important step in the right direction, but the implementation will take time and mechanisms need to be defined.
Lastly, I want to emphasize our increased focus on shareholder returns. In November, we launched our first ever share buyback program, which is a concrete commitment to return capital to our shareholders.
We updated our dividend policy in June and accordingly, I am pleased to say that Outokumpu’s Board of Directors proposes a base dividend of EUR 0.25 per share for the year 2022 plus an extra dividend of EUR 0.10 per share due to the exceptionally strong financial results. "