K&B: focus on growth markets is paying off

Jo Francis
Thursday, July 29, 2021

Koenig & Bauer has reported a near-30% increase in order intake, boosted by sheetfed and special presses, and said it was confident about the future as the “global economic engine is increasingly gaining momentum”.

Record number of orders taken at recent China Print expo
Record number of orders taken at recent China Print expo

In the half year to 30 June sales slipped by 4.4% to €493.2m (£419.7m) due to the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, although the order backlog was up nearly 16% at €754.1m.

EBIT improved from a €19.8m loss the prior year to a positive €6.4m thanks to the effects of the P24x efficiency programme. 

Overall orders were up around 28%. Orders for presses grew across all products in its Special division – which includes metal decorating, glass and hollow containers, security printing and ID coding – and jumped by 45% thanks to one of the best performances ever for its specialist MetalPrint subsidiary. 

Sheetfed orders rose by 30%, with most of the growth coming from packaging printers. 

The China Print show in June also involved a record number of orders for K&B at that expo, where it showcased its new Rapida 105 for the first time at an in-person event. 

Digital & Web disappointed, despite growth in flexo press orders for flexible packaging, with lower orders for web offset presses and “pandemic-related reluctance” from customers in digital décor and corrugated board printing. 

K&B now also has five beta customers for its new CorruCut rotary die-cutter and flexo press for corrugated. 

Order intake at the loss-making division was down nearly 26% at €42m, while the order backlog almost halved, falling 46.8% to €45.5m.

CEO Dr Andreas Pleßke said the group’s broad product range would help the business achieve its future goals. 

“Our customers’ decisions also show that we have done very good work in recent years and that our focus on growth markets such as conventional and digital packaging printing is paying off,” he said. 

He highlighted sustainability as a key issue for both K&B and its customers, and said the group was proud to be the first press manufacturer to join the Healthy Printing Initiative organised by continental scientific innovation institute EPEA and non-profit organisation DOEN Foundation; and to become a member of the Holy Grail 2.0 smart packaging recycling project in the EU. 

Regarding the outlook for the full year, CFO Dr Stephen Kimmich said the group expected organic growth in group revenues of 7%-10% to between €1.1bn and €1.135bn, an increase on previous forecasts of 4% sales growth, and an EBIT margin of 2%. 

“That said, persistent delivery shortfalls and, related to this, increases in the price of materials as well as the reimposition of travel restrictions – not least of all due to the emergence of mutations of the Covid-19 virus – will continue to exert pressure in the second half of 2021,” he noted. 

K&B’s share price has risen by 12.12% over the past week, and was up 0.49% today, at €31.00. 

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