China leads Heidelberg recovery

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Rising sales of its offset presses to Chinese printers in July–September enabled press giant Heidelberg to recover from a first quarter slump, although it still recorded a half yearly sales total of 28 per cent lower than the same period last year.

The Heidelberg Speedmaster XL106-10-P+LX-LEUV colour perfector 
Heidelberg Speedmaster XL106-10-P+LX-LEUV colour perfector: Chinese take away

First quarter sales fell by almost half, 44 per cent, but second quarter showed the recovery was starting, with sales down by a fifth, to €805m for the half, down from €1.12bn last year. Incoming orders dropped by 32 per cent to €864m, compared to the previous year’s €1.3m. The net financial debt was successfully reduced, from €416m in the previous year to €157m.

Chinese orders were down by eight per cent in the second quarter, recovering from a 50 per cent drop in the first quarter.

In a twelve-month comparison, the EBITDA excluding restructuring result improved from €69m to €97m, despite lower sales. Heidelberg says the intensive use of short-time working models went some way toward compensating for the shortfall in profit contributions, and the costs of underutilisation in the short term.

The costs saved by launching the transformation programme in the first half-year amounted to approximately €45m. In addition, earnings of €73m from the reorganisation of the pension plans for the company’s employees in Germany, and the sale of the Belgian subsidiary CERM, which raised €8m, had a positive impact on profitability.

Heidelberg said the figures gave it reasons to be optimistic, and said that it will reach its announced targets in the year as a whole, and says it will continue to achieve sustainably profitable growth in the years that follow.

Rainer Hundsdörfer, CEO of Heidelberg, said, "Our transformation is proving successful. We are delivering on our promise. By the end of the half-year, we had drastically reduced our debt and made significant improvements regarding our liquidity and results – despite the huge challenges our organisation has faced owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. Besides enhancing our financial stability, we are strategically positioning ourselves to meet our customers’ needs with an innovative, needs-based product and service portfolio, with our aim being to further boost incoming orders and sales. We will continue to benefit from this when the markets recover, as demonstrated by China."

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