Big jump in orders, but earnings hit by slack sales

(PresseBox) ( Würzburg, )
- Order intake up 43% on previous year
- Order backlog over €100m higher than at yearend 2009
- Group sales still behind target
- Consolidation and realignment progressing well
- Management reaffirms positive sales and profit forecast

Würzburg. In the first quarter of 2010 German press manufacturer Koenig & Bauer AG (KBA) booked a big increase in new business compared to the same period the previous year. The group order intake climbed 43.2% to €314.4m (2009: €219.5m), with the increase in web and special presses (43.1%) roughly the same as in sheetfed presses (43.5%). The group order backlog of €439.6m was over €100m higher than at the end of last year (€335m) and comprised €322.3m for web and special presses and €117.3m for sheetfed presses.

Following a weak intake of orders from November 2009 to February 2010 and reduced webpress shipments in the first three months, group sales of €209.8m were 4.7% down on the previous year's €220.2m. While the sheetfed division posted an 11.7% increase in sales to €85.8m, sales generated by the web and special press division slid 13.5% to €124m.

Better operating result but lack of profit contributions

Weak quarterly sales impacted on profit contributions and earnings. Although the gross profit margin climbed from 13.6% twelve months earlier to 21.7% as a result of costcutting measures, KBA posted an operating loss for the quarter of €19.4m. This, however, was well below the prioryear figure of €32.7m. Following a small financial loss of €1.9m the group made a pretax loss (EBT) of €21.3m, compared to a loss of €35.2m the previous year. After taxes it disclosed a net loss of €20.2m (2009: a loss of €33.2m). Earnings per share also improved to -€1.23 (2009: -€2.03).

Bigger inventories for scheduled shipments reduce cash flow The quarterly loss and bigger inventories reduced cash flows from operating activities to -€41.3m, well below the 2009 figure of €19.2m. The free cash flow came to -€43.4m, against €13.5m twelve months earlier. Funds shrank from €76.1m at the end of December to €38.8m at the end of March. While bank loans totalling €55.5m were higher than at the end of last year (€48.3m), net debt was a manageable €16.7m. This is well within the longterm credit lines available and should improve significantly along with the cash flow as sales pick up in the second halfyear. Group equity represented 38% of the balance sheet total, well above the industry average.

At the end of March the KBA group employed a total of 6,559 people, 410 fewer than at the end of 2009 and 1,087 fewer than a year earlier. The group's realignment to a global market which industry experts warn will be 25% smaller, even in the event of a strong economic recovery, will see the payroll reduced to around 6,000.

Record export level of 86.5%

With domestic sales down 22% at €28.4m, the export level rose from 83.5% to a record 86.5%. Sales to the rest of Europe slid from €81.1m to €58.4m, due to slack demand in southern and eastern states. This reduced the proportion of sales generated in this region to 27.9%, an historic low. Brisk demand in China boosted sales to Asia and the Pacific from €36.8m to €58.1m, causing a leap from 16.7% to 27.7% in the proportion of group sales generated in this region. North America, a relatively weak market, contributed 15% of group sales, Africa and Latin America 15.9%.

Forecast for 2010

Last year KBA was the only leading press manufacturer to post a profit, and notwithstanding its weak start to the year management is confident that, thanks to the realignment process implemented over the past twelve months, the group is on track to meet its targets.

President and CEO Helge Hansen says: "By the end of the year we anticipate higher group sales and a better pretax result than in 2009. In view of the strong increase in our order backlog in the first quarter, and the volume of orders expected in the second quarter, we have a real chance of achieving these objectives. However, at this early stage, and in view of current economic instability, we see little sense in issuing a sales and earnings forecast for the year. We shall keep you informed of progress to date in our regular financial reports."

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