News; Apr 15, 2002 CET

2001 the best year ever for Swedish Match shareholders

For Swedish Match shareholders, 2001 was the best year since the company’s stock market introduction in 1996.

The share price rose 51 percent, from SEK 36.50 at the beginning of the year to SEK 55.50 at yearend. To this share price increase must be added the dividend for the year of SEK 1.35 per share, which means that the total return to shareholders during the year was in excess of 53 percent. This makes Swedish Match the best-performing of the most actively traded shares on the Stockholm Exchange. During the preceding year, 2000, the share rose by more than 20 percent.

For Swedish shareholders, 2001 was a depressing year. The Stockholm Exchange fell by 17 percent during the year. The sharpest decline occurred in September following the attacks in the US, but prices recovered somewhat toward the end of the year.

World stock markets also fell by 17 percent last year, measured as a weighted average in US dollars.

This can be compared with a 15-percent decline during the preceding year. It is unusual for share prices to fall in two successive years - the previous occasion this happened was at the time of the oil crisis in 1973-1974.

The US Nasdaq Exchange, on which Swedish Match’s American Depository Receipts are listed, fell slightly more than 20 percent during 2001.

The factors behind the surge of the Swedish Match share include the company’s strong financial position, stable and positive cash flow and underlying sales growth, even during a period of economic decline. Investors also benefit from improved earnings per share following a continuing share buy-back program.

The current year also began with a decline in share prices on the stock markets, with the Stockholm Exchange recording a 10-percent fall during January. The Swedish Match share has also gone against the stream during the early part of 2002, with continuing positive share price development.