We announced our results for the first quarter of 2018, with operating cash generation of R$1.3 billion, which is our best first-quarter result ever. The record cash flow was made possible by the operational advances obtained in recent quarters, the rigorous control of expenses and the favorable environment in the international pulp market. In the period from April 2017 to March 2018 (last 12 months), operating cash generation amounted to R$4.2 billion, which is an unprecedented mark in our 94‑year history.
Adjusted EBITDA in the first quarter came to R$1.5 billion, advancing 80.4% on the same period last year. This was the highest Adjusted EBITDA ever reported by us in a first quarter. In the 12-month period, Adjusted EBITDA reached R$5.3 billion, setting yet another new record.
Supported by the strong operating result, the company’s financial leverage, measured by the ratio of net debt to Adjusted EBITDA, fell from 2.1 times at the end of December 2017 to 1.7 times at the end of March 2018.
“The first quarter results reflect our constant concern with continually improving, gaining competitiveness and reinforcing our solid financial position,” said Walter Schalka, CEO of Suzano Pulp & Paper.
Return on invested capital (ROIC), the main management metric adopted, was 17.4% in the first quarter of 2018. Meanwhile, pulp production cash cost ex-downtime stood at R$587/ton in the period, virtually in line with a year earlier, despite the cumulative inflation in the period of 2.7%.
In the external environment, pulp demand remained strong, which contributed to the higher average price in the global market. As a result, we reported net revenue of R$3 billion in the quarter, 33.1% more than in the first three months of last year.
The pace of production also remained high in early 2018, with pulp and paper production volume growing 5.7% to 1.2 million tons. Another period highlight was the Adjusted EBITDA from the Pulp business, of R$1,467 per ton. The Company ended the quarter with net income of R$813 million.
We invested R$709 million in the first quarter, virtually double the capital expenditures made in the same period of 2017, of which R$264 was invested in forestry and industrial maintenance. Other investments, including the expenditures to acquire Fábrica de Papel da Amazônia S.A. (Facepa), amounted to R$445 million.