EBIT was also up

Koenig & Bauer reports sales growth

The management board expects the EBIT margin and revenue to remain stable in 2024
The management board expects the EBIT margin and revenue to remain stable in 2024

Koenig & Bauer remained on its growth path in 2023, with group revenue up by 11.9% to €1.327bn (£1.14bn), reaching the upper end of the guidance of around €1.3bn.

As in the previous year, almost 30% of its revenue was generated by service business. The press manufacturer said its Sheetfed revenue rose by 16%, and Digital & Webfed posted an increase of 23.2%, while Special revenue was down on the previous year by 0.8%.

The company said its final quarter saw high revenue of €435.7m (compared to €380m the previous year), enabling it to remain on the growth trajectory that it had adopted in the first half of 2023, despite a more muted third quarter.

“We continued on our path of steadily improving operating earnings in a persistently challenging market environment. Nevertheless, we are aware that Koenig & Bauer needs to be more profitable,” said Dr Andreas Pleßke, CEO of Koenig & Bauer.

The company said it was “headed in the right direction” but noted that external and internal factors were resulting in heightened complexity and rising costs.

For this reason, the at the end of 2023 the management board launched the ‘Spotlight’ focus programme, which aims to prioritise initiatives and business models that boost earnings and financial strength, deprioritise initiatives that do not directly impact earnings, and optimise the group and segment organisation as well as the indirect cost structure to make processes even leaner and more customer-friendly.

Under the leadership of Pleßke, the measures will for the most part be identified, implemented and finalised in 2024, although the company said the full-year effect will not be felt until 2025.

“It is time to profitably leverage the results of the product and market initiatives of recent years, and this is what we are focusing on with ‘Spotlight’,” said CFO and deputy CEO Dr Stephen Kimmich.

In addition to his existing duties, Kimmich will also be assuming responsibility for the Special segment from 1 April 2024 following the reallocation of duties.

Group earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) in 2023 reached €29.9m (previous year: €22m), translating into an EBIT margin of 2.3% (previous year: 1.9%). Sheetfed contributed €29.8m of EBIT, Digital & Webfed €–23.9m, and Special €23m.

At just shy of €1.288bn, order intake was down 3.1% on the previous year’s figure of €1.329bn. Sheetfed order intake was down 25.5% on last year, Digital & Webfed posted an increase of 9.9%, and Special posted a 37.1% increase.

The order backlog contracted from €950.4m to €911.5m at the end of the year as a result of delivery completions, and the company said it continued to serve as a solid basis for 2024.

While continuing to face a challenging macroeconomic environment in 2024, the management board expects the EBIT margin and revenue to remain stable at the previous year’s level in 2024.

Accordingly, it projects operating earnings of between €25m and €40m and revenue of around €1.3bn. However, it said group EBIT for 2024 would be burdened by up to €10m as a result of spending on Drupa, resulting in group EBIT of between €15m and €30m after this one-off effect.

Koenig & Bauer’s share price was down by 0.94% on yesterday’s close at the time of writing just before lunchtime today (27 March), at €12.60 (52-week high: €20.20, low: €9.69).