In an update released today (8 November), the manufacturer said this is the result of a slight improvement in sales in its key EMEA region thanks to growth in the packaging segment.
After adjustment for exchange rate movements, the company achieved sales of €1.092bn (£951m) in its first half-year (1 April to 30 September 2023), which compared to €1.120bn in the previous year.
Incoming orders after six months totalled €1.184bn after adjustment for exchange rate movements, which compared to the previous year’s level of €1.229bn.
The adjusted operating result (EBITDA) was also an improvement on the same period of the previous year, with the half-year figure amounting to €101m (adjusted result for previous year: €92m). The corresponding adjusted EBITDA margin increased to 9.2% (previous year: 8.2%).
Heidelberg saw success in the period with the Gallus One digital label press, which it said impressed at LabelExpo in Brussels and “attracted a great deal of interest from customers”. The Boardmaster press for high productivity in packaging printing also generated further sales.
Incoming orders for the Packaging Solutions segment saw an increase of around 16% in the first half-year.
“Given the stable growth of packaging printing, we are continuously further expanding our portfolio in this sector,” said Heidelberg CEO Ludwin Monz.
As well as effects associated with the product and country mix, Heidelberg said price adjustments to compensate for higher personnel, material, and energy costs also had a positive impact.
The net result after taxes for the half-year remained positive at €33m, compared with the previous year’s figure of €44m, with higher tax expenditure, increased pension-related interest costs, and the lack of positive special items having a bearing on the result.
The cash generated from operating activities (operating cash flow) improved, Heidelberg said, in particular due to rigorous management of inventories and receivables (working capital).
Despite this positive development, the negative free cash flow of €28m after six months was down on the previous year’s negative free cash flow of €13m, which had included special items amounting to around €52m.
“The current free cash flow situation underlines the necessity to use further impetus from our value creation program to generate resources for growth in segments such as the lucrative digital printing sector,” said Heidelberg CFO Tania von der Goltz.
The program’s analysis phase is ongoing and Heidelberg said it was still planning to achieve a positive free cash flow at the end of the financial year.
Its forecast for the full financial year 2023/2024 remains as stated in June.
“Assuming the global economy does not see weaker growth than predicted by the economic research institutions, the company is still expecting sales in financial year 2023/2024 to match the previous year’s figure (€2.435bn),” the company stated.
The adjusted EBITDA margin is also anticipated to remain at the previous year’s level of 7.2%.