EFI on acquisistion trail despite Q4 losses

In a telephone conference with select journalists, Gecht said the company was aiming to grow through the recession by increasing its product development and using its high cash reserves to fund acquisitions and a share buyback.

He said: “We’re hearing customers saying, listen, this is going to be a year where we’re going to invest because normally in a down cycle, the strong gain market share and then, when the economy rebounds, their business rebounds and the weak are losing share and sometimes getting out of business.

“We want to help EFI customers to be strong and to gain share. The pie is going to be smaller but we want to get a bigger part of that pie.”

The US-based pre-media and inkjet giant also posted a 9.7% fall in its annual turnover, down to $US560.1m ($A888.8m), and an annual pre-tax loss of $US21.1m ($A33.5m).

However, EFI stressed that its good cash position, which was further strengthened in the quarter by the $US137.5m ($A218.3m) sale of unused real estate at its Foster City headquarters, would help achieve its aim of growing through the recession.

Gecht said: “Additional cash will help us for two reasons. Firstly, we’re still looking for acquisitions. In this environment some of our smaller competitors may struggle and we think that now may be a good time to buy them at an attractive prices.

“Secondly, our stock, like most other public companies was beaten down quite a bit this year and it’s pretty low in our opinion right now and we would like to buy back some of the stock.”

Gecht added that EFI, which is gearing up for a mid-year launch of its new DS series of inkjet presses, would also launch the latest generation ink for its QS series this week, as part of a “record year” of product launches.

He said: “We will have a record year of new products in every business category and we believe that that is the most guaranteed way to get out of recession – to actually have stronger products and stronger innovation and stronger capabilities.”

Gecht predicted that although the recession could get worse before it gets better, it might not be as bad as some analysts had predicted.

“It’s always difficult to predict how far are you from the end of the downturn but I think given that we already have spent a few months in this downturn, given all the efforts [by governments] to provide a stimulus package, I think we maybe closer than a lot of the experts will think – maybe another six months, maybe it’s closer. But I think clearly there is light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

Read the original article at www.printweek.com.

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