Earnings per share jumped from €1.14 to €2.11
While a total of €1649.7m for new bookings represented a double-digit improvement on 2004 which had been boosted by the drupa trade fair, it was 6.7 per cent down on the record figure for 2005 of €1768.9m.
KBA CEO Bolza-Schünemann attributed this to the smaller number of major newspaper and gravure contracts put up for tender. An increase in shipments trimmed the order backlog to €948.7m at the end of the year, from €1040.9m in 2005.
KBA's sheetfed offset division lifted sales by 6.5 per cent to €870.6m (2005: €817.6m) just under half of the group total. KBA-Grafitec, a Czech subsidiary acquired in 2005, posted double-digit sales growth with its small-format presses.
The volume of incoming orders, including those booked by KBA-MetalPrint, a new subsidiary consolidated in the second half of the year, came to €864.3m, 4.2 per cent up on the previous year (€829.5m).
But despite a raft of cost-cutting initiatives, earnings by the sheetfed division were below target at €5m (2005: €2.7m). Margins were hit by price erosion in press markets and the cost of optimising new products.
A high level of capacity utilisation at KBA’s production plants and efficiency gains from restructuring the web press division enabled the group to boost operating profit from €33.3m in 2005 to €46.2m.
Bolza-Schünemann says the outlook for 2007 is good with the volume of sheetfed orders on hand at the beginning of the year, and contracts placed since then, scheduled to keep the relevant production plants busy until well into the third quarter.
A backlog of orders for web presses swelled in January and February with contracts from Italy, Spain, the UK and USA for newspaper and commercial presses, and a further decorative gravure printing press.
Despite softer sales of multi-unit web presses, KBA management says it is confident that group sales and pre-tax earnings will be roughly on a par with 2006. However, in view of the uncertainties relating to wage negotiations and currency movements, Bolza-Schünemann says he will not be issuing a more detailed prognosis until a later date, when interim figures are available.