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KBA Halves Loss with Spike in Press Orders

August 13, 2010

Notwithstanding an increase in inventories of around €30 million, in preparation for higher shipments in the second half-year, the operative cash flow improved from -€41.3 million at the end of March to -€18.1 million at the end of June. In his letter to shareholders in the half-yearly report KBA president and CEO Helge Hansen emphasised that the operative cash flow in the heavy engineering sector is prone to periodic fluctuations but should improve as sales pick up still further in coming months. Funds at the end of June totalled €45.8 million and KBA’s net financial position was positive, while its equity ratio of 37.5% compares well with the rest of the sector.

Consolidation on course
At the end of June the KBA group employed a total of 6,445 people, almost 1,000 fewer than at the same time last year (7,411) and 1,700 below the pre-crisis peak in summer 2008. Existing redundancy and phased-retirement schemes will reduce the total by approximately 300. By the end of the year the personnel cuts initiated in spring 2009 will be largely completed, leaving a payroll of around 6,100.

86.2% export level
A 10% drop in domestic sales pushed the export level up from 83.9% to 86.2%. Shipments to the rest of Europe fell from €176.7 million to €139.7 million as the recession impacted on sales in key print markets. So after exceeding 50% on a regular basis, the proportion of Group sales generated in Europe almost halved to 29.5%. Brisk demand boosted earnings in Asia and the Pacific from €101.2m to €127.6m and the proportion of Group sales from 22.3% to 27%. However, the proportion booked in North America, where the economy has yet to revive, sank to 11.6%. The contribution from Africa and Latin America soared to 18.1% – well above the historic average.

Outlook for second half-year
Demand for printing presses has picked up strongly in the past five months, as a result of which both the group order intake and the level of plant utilisation have increased substantially. So despite the cut in personnel and the fact that more work has been brought in-house, Hansen stands by his previous projection for the current year of an increase of some 7.5% in sales to more than €1.1 billion (2009: €1.05 billion): “We are confident that the substantial improvement in performance compared to the first six months of 2009 will continue for the rest of the year, and that we shall post a single-digit rise in sales and a bigger pre-tax profit than the €2.7 million in 2009. Precisely how high earnings are will essentially depend on our niche markets, with their shorter business cycles, on our customer services and on a sustained economic revival.”

Despite an intensive search KBA has not yet made any further acquisition or entered a collaborative alliance with new partners. Even so, the group remains committed to diversifying from its traditional business of press technology into new fields offering good prospects for growth and employment. Says Hansen: “Protracted negotiations on a potential acquisition with a business volume of well over €100m recently fell through when the risks to which KBA would be exposed proved to be too high. Further options are being pursued with the due diligence and patience essential in the current business climate. While KBA has ample reserves to finance any promising project, we are in no hurry and have no desire to enter a venture with an uncertain outcome.”

The financial statements can be downloaded as a PDF file from

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