KBA posts Q1 results, hails Drupa orders

The group published its first quarter report as Drupa was drawing to a close and while he was unwilling to give specific figures – as financing had yet to be finalised in many cases – chief executive Claus Bolza-Schünemann was upbeat about KBA’s performance.

“We have signed a lot of contracts with both existing and new customers,” he said. “But it will be weeks, or even months, before all the financing has been clarified, customer prepayments have been received and we and other exhibitors can assess our true performance at Drupa 2012.”

Operating profit for the quarter to 31 March 2012 improved from a €1.8 million ($2.3 million) loss in the prior year to a €2 million profit, while the pre-tax result swung from a €3.9 million deficit to a €200,000 profit.

Group sales also improved, rising 4% from €253.3 million to €263.5 million thanks to a near 28% spike in web and special press sales, which increased from €127.3 million to €162.6 million, although sheetfed press sales fell around 20%, from €126 million to €100.9 million.

KBA blamed the drop in sheetfed press sales on “a fourth-quarter dip in demand” as well as a number of late orders that had not yet worked through to the bottom line. However, it highlighted an 8% rise in sheetfed press orders to €152.9 million.

This was partly attributed to a pre-Drupa event at KBA’s Radebeul facility in March, which was attended by more than 1,000 print professionals and helped to overcome the traditional reluctance to invest in the quarter preceding print’s biggest trade show.

However, the pattern of mixed returns continued as – in the absence of the major contracts that had resulted in the record prior-year figure – incoming orders for web and special presses plummeted 71% from €290.6 million to €83.7 million.

This left KBA’s overall order intake down 45%, from €432.1 million to €236.6 million, although its order backlog increased 29% to €798.8 million, which the press manufacturer said was at odds with the industry trend.

Meanwhile, the group’s headcount fell from 6,404 on 31 March 2011 to 6,294 in 2012, with this figure expected to further reduce, ultimately falling below 6,000 following the conclusion of various cost cutting initiatives.

This article originally appeared at printweek.com

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