Koenig & Bauer 'well positioned' despite uncertainties

Jo Francis
Friday, July 29, 2022

Koenig & Bauer hopes to achieve its goals for 2022 despite describing the current operating environment as “one of the most difficult in Europe’s recent history”.

Orders were up 13% in the first half
Orders were up 13% in the first half

Reporting on the first half of the financial year, the manufacturer said orders were up 13% at €692.9m (£582.4m), while sales were flat year-on-year at €491.8m. 

The EBIT loss was €13.8m compared to €14.9m the prior year on a like-for-like basis, excluding last year’s €21.3m gain from its P24X efficiency programme. 

K&B said the higher cost of materials and energy was almost completely offset by price increases.

The net loss at 30 June was €15.8m (2021: net profit: €1.1m).

K&B said its business was still heavily impacted by Covid-19, supply chain bottlenecks, and increases in the cost of materials and energy. 

The group has also renewed the contracts of two key executives ahead of schedule to ensure continuity: Christoph Müller’s contract has been extended to 30 June 2026, meaning he will clock up 20 years on the K&B board. 

Müller is CEO of the digital and webfeb business, and his responsibilities include corrugated, digital and strategic partnerships. K&B said having Müller in place would ensure the smooth integration of Celmacch, the corrugated acquisition announced a week ago. 

Ralf Sammeck’s contract has been renewed for an additional year, to 2025. 

Sammeck has been on the board since 2007 and helms K&B’s sheetfed business as well as being responsible for digital transformation. 

He is tasked with ensuring K&B continues to expand its position in the packaging market and also driving forward digitisation “even after Drupa 2024”. 

Earlier this month the group explained how it had been working intensively to become independent of pipeline gas in light of the energy crisis caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

As a result, the process gas previously required for production will be fully substituted by the end of July.

In its H1 update the group also noted: “Unforeseen fluctuations in the power grid cannot be ruled out as a consequence of limited gas supplies. Koenig & Bauer is also prepared for this scenario and, with the measures taken, sees its own production in all European plants as very largely secured, even in the event of a possible Russian gas supply freeze.”

The group noted that planned delivery of presses and systems for the second half of 2022 posed “a major challenge and must be reassessed if the global supply chain situation continues to deteriorate”.

As a result, K&B said it was not possible to provide a reliable full-year forecast for 2022.

However, the group continued to anticipate a slight year-on-year increase in overall operating revenue and the operating EBIT margin.

CFO Dr Stephen Kimmich commented: “Despite all the external uncertainties, we feel well positioned to achieve our goals for 2022 as a basis for reaching our medium-term goals.”

K&B shares, which have been on the slide since the start of the year, rose by 5.76% to €14.68 on the news. 

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