HEIDELBERG (dpa-AFX) - In a challenging environment, Heidelberger Druck landed more orders again at the end of the past financial year. Incoming orders in the three months to the end of March "improved significantly" to just under 600 million euros, the SDax-listed company announced in Heidelberg on Wednesday. In the third quarter of the financial year, the situation was significantly weaker - now business in Asia, particularly in China, has improved. Investors on the stock market were initially delighted. In early trading, the price of one of the company's shares rose above the one euro mark for the first time in a month. However, the share price recently fell by 0.9 percent.

The printing press manufacturer also announced that incoming orders for the full financial year were around six percent below the previous year's figure. At the end of April, chief executive Martin Sonnenschein had already held out the prospect of an improvement in the business situation in the wake of the important industry trade fair Drupa. "Experience shows that the market is always difficult before the Drupa global trade fair," he said in a report in Wirtschaftswoche. However, "an upturn can be expected in the second half of 2024". The trade fair takes place from May 28 to June 7.

Analyst Peter Rothenaicher from Baader Bank emphasized that incoming orders for the financial year were "clearly better" than in the industry as a whole. He also praised the strong free cash flow, which at around EUR 50 million was at its highest level for over ten years.

Based on preliminary figures, the printing press manufacturer was able to keep turnover stable at around 2.4 billion euros in the past financial year (ending March). In day-to-day business, Heidelberg's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, adjusted for special items, were also roughly the same as in the previous year, so that the corresponding profit margin remained stable at 7.2 percent. Short-time working, which was introduced between January and March according to earlier reports, is also likely to have helped. "We expect short-time work to result in short-term savings in the low single-digit million range," said Ludwin Monz, still CEO of the Group, at the beginning of February.

In mid-April, it was surprisingly announced that the manager was stepping down. He will be succeeded by former S.Oliver boss Jürgen Otto. Monz is said to want to leave the company "at his own request" and "in agreement with the Supervisory Board"./ngu/mne/stk