Shares in the manufacturer tumbled from €1.07 (£0.90) to €0.98 on the announcement, but subsequently recovered slightly to €1.02. (52-week high: €2.13, low: €0.84).
The firm said that sales and incoming orders for the first nine months of its financial year were “stable”, but Q3 results – in the period from 1 October to 31 December – had fallen short.
Sales in Q3 fell by the equivalent of €4m a month when compared to the prior year, and were down to €567m.
Although order volumes increased in China and the US, Heidelberg cited a “reluctance to invest” in Germany, the UK and the rest of Central Europe.
Heidelberg also said that trading had also been impacted by pressure on margins in its growing consumables business, as well as high upfront costs in digital printing for products including the Primefire and Labelfire, which “still faced insufficient sales”.
The EBITDA figure of €47m (excluding restructuring charges) was boosted by a €25m one-time gain following the sale of Hi-Tech Coatings, but if this was stripped out of the figures EBITDA slumped by 43.6% to €22m (prior year: €39m).
Heidelberg has been forced to further downgrade its forecast for the full year as a consequence. “The expectation of a continued low propensity to invest in key European markets means that even in the traditionally strong fourth quarter of the current financial year, sales and earnings are expected to be down on the previous year, with implications for the annual forecast,” the firm stated.
Tough trading last summer had already resulted in its EBITDA forecast of 7.5%-8% being reduced to 6.5%-7%.
This has now been cut further to 5.5%-6%, with expectations of a small post-tax loss for the year. The post-tax loss for the first nine months grew from €2m to €10m.
Full year sales are expected to be “slightly below” last year’s figure of €2.47bn. The fourth quarter is traditionally the firm’s best for volumes and profitability.
Heidelberg announced the sale of Hi-Tech Coatings in November and plans to further streamline its product portfolio with the sale of other “non-core” businesses. It is also working to make processes and structures more efficient to reduce the overall cost base, including optimising its international production network.
Chief executive Rainer Hundsdörfer said: “In order to adapt Heidelberg to these increasingly difficult marketing conditions in the long-term, we are working at full speed, as announced, to finalise a package of measures to adjust our structures and achieve a sustained increase in profitability.”
At the end of last year rival German manufacturer Koenig & Bauer also announced that it would not hit its sales and profit targets for the year.