Restructuring of KBA is on schedule and bringing positive resuls, the press maker says.
And packaging and industrial applications of its digital print technologies - rather than conventional printing - are seen as growth opportunities.
Financial statements for 2014 show sales are on target and at 1.1 billion Euros, on a par with the previous year and "at the top end of its forecast". A 14.1 million Euros operating profit will deliver 5.5 million Euros before tax, both ahead of forecasts.
While in the previous year restructuring expenses strained the operating result, in 2014 both sheetfed offset and the web and special press division posted an operating profit. In a letter to the shareholders president Claus Bolza-Schünemann says the group made rapid progress in the first 12 months of "the most extensive realignment project in our company's recent history" with positive effects earlier than anticipated.
Order intake in 2014 was characterised by negative external impacts resulting from numerous global conflicts, economic weakness in parts of Europe and in key emerging countries as well as slower growth in China.
Sluggish business trends in newspaper and publication printing continued and combined with a slide in demand for security presses led to a fall in order intake of 14.2 per cent to 346.8 million Euros compared to the previous year. "Overall, the rise in new orders for sheetfed presses was unable to compensate for the decline in KBA's web and special press business," says Bolza-Schünemann.
The fall in web and special press sales of 3.5 per cent was partly compensated by results from packaging press specialists KBA-Kammann and KBA-Flexotecnica, consolidated for the first time over the entire reporting period.
Digital printing field also contributed to sales with the delivery of the first KBA RotaJET 168 to a German decorative printer.
Despite a dip in growth, China remains KBA's largest market, alsthoughb Asia Pacific sales eased to 263.4 million Euros or 23.9 per cent. Growth areas were Europe outside Germany, and the Americas.
At 2.6 million Euros, the operating profit after special items in the web and special press segment remained below previous years and "not comparable" with the previous year with its one-off expenses. "KBA's web offset business will have brighter future prospects albeit on a significantly smaller scale through its grouping with growing inkjet digital activities in the new KBA-Digital & Web Solutions business unit," the A focus since the appointment of chief financial officer Mathias Dähn last June 2014 on working capital management saw liquid assets rise to 207.6 million Euros.
At the end of 2014 there were 5,731 staff on the KBA payroll, 678 fewer than at the end of 2013.
While no overall growth is seen for the global press market in 2015, further opportunities for growth have been identified "predominantly in digital and packaging printing".
In digital printing KBA aims to focus more on applications with challenging materials and large substrate widths. Flexible digital press platforms were developed in 2014 with the RotaJET L and RotaJET VL. Furthermore, the first results are expected from KBA's partnership with Hewlett Packard for the development of an inkjet press for the digital corrugated printing sector.