The preliminary operating result for the period under review was EUR20m, down from EUR102m last year, which was higher than the predicted break-even result. This primarily resulted from the implemented cost-cutting measures, which saved EUR240m. These measures included the jettisoning of its Digital and Web Systems divisions, as well as the culling of its workforce from 24,181 to 22,782.
In the fourth quarter alone, the operating result improved to EUR110m, up from EUR54m. Despite high non-recurring expenditures for efficiency improvements and restructuring, the free cash flow in 2003/2004 was positive at EUR114 m, considerably higher than forecast loss of EUR100m.
The preliminary result after taxes for the 2003/04 fiscal year was a loss of EUR695m, compared to a loss of EUR138m last year. This includes non-recurring expenditures to the value of EUR569m, mostly for depreciation of book values, for restructuring costs and expenditures in connection with the discontinued Digital and Web Systems operations.
Business in Eastern Europe and Asia/Pacific was pleasing, with sales either improving or remaining at a high level. North America, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East regions were affected by low investment in the industry.
The Sheetfed Division concluded the year with a very positive operating result, but despite clear improvements in efficiency was still unable to fully make up the drop in sales of over 14 per cent. In all other divisions, the operating result improved.