• DS Smith have not seen any significant disruptions to their operations from the Coronavirus: Some plants have not been running full shifts, but sites have been pulling together to facilitate transfer of orders.
  • Business has been busy, with ups and downs sector specific: Industrial, automotive and luxury has been the weakest. Food and drink have been strong and “e-commerce has been unbelievable”.
  • Designated as an essential manufacturer in all jurisdictions: Additionally, over 80% of their customers are also deemed essential.  
  • Levers to respond to COVID: 35-45% of FY 20e CapEx
    (GBP 370m) is growth related, which could be easily turned off if required. Plant network could be rationalised, but this would not be their first choice. “Need a few months to see what the new norm is now”.
  • Structural changes to purchasing habits and e-commerce due to lock down: With home delivery during this period a first-time experience for many, people may continue to rely on the ease and flexibility of having goods delivered directly to their homes even after the lockdown has been lifted. “Anecdotally, some counties have seen Christmas peaks recently”.
  • DS Smith remains one of the largest recyclers in Europe: They manage over 5.5mt p.a. of PfR and are well-positioned to draw on their Europe-wide infrastructure. They have been working closely with collectors of materials from households and encouraging them to maintain collections during this crisis.  
  • Recent exit from Plastics to help degear (GBP 400m) and to focus on fibre-based packaging: There is still room for consolidation in Europe, however “very brave to throw around cash right now”. Their MT gearing target remains 2.0x
    net debt/EBITDA (covenant: 3.25x and H1 20A: 2.3x).  
  • Capacity geared towards packaging (downstream): They prefer to be short testliner, with less capital tied up and the testliner market has low barriers of entry, in their view.   
  • Kraftlliner should see further support: Barriers of entry are higher; however, kraftliner cannot be totally divorced from testliner (normalised spread of EUR 120/t is reasonable).

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