08 Dec 2019

Robert Horne Group appoint new Managing Director

Paul French

Paul French has been appointed as the new Managing Director of Robert Horne Group.  Paul has been in the visual communication market for over 15 years having started his career at Xerox. In addition to his specialist knowledge he has gained extensive general management experience in a variety of Senior Management roles. In 2001 Paul became Managing Director of Spandex UK, a Sign and Digital specialist Company, part of the International Gerber Technologies.  For the last three years he has been Divisional Director of Robert Horne's Sign & Display division.

Paul comments "This is a really exciting opportunity and I am looking forward to leading this business as we navigate our way through the current trading conditions into what I believe is a period of growth and stability for this business. We have the potential to further enhance our products and services by fully developing the width and depth of our service to customers.  Robert Horne is in a unique position in terms of our offer to market from paper, board, plastics, press room consumables and packaging through to wide format machinery, environmental consultancy and waste management."

EFI declares victory over L&P in important patent litigation on inkjet technology

EFI logo

Electronics For Imaging, Inc., a world leader in customer-focused digital printing innovation, and its superwide format printer unit VUTEk today announced total victory in patent litigation with Leggett & Platt (L&P) involving EFI's ultra-violet (UV) ink curing technology.

After a string of successful summary judgment motions, one of which was affirmed by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, EFI has reached a non-confidential settlement with L&P that does not require any payment from EFI to L&P. L&P dismissed all of its claims against EFI and promised not to sue EFI or any of its customers based on a claim that EFI products infringe any of the patents-in-suit or any related patent.

L&P first filed the lawsuit in May 2005 against VUTEk during EFI's acquisition of the innovative superwide format printer business. L&P claimed that its patent (U.S. Patent No. 6,755,518) covered VUTEk's technology. From the outset EFI maintained that VUTEk invented and patented the technologies first (U.S. Patent Nos. 6,457,823 and 6,616,355). The US District Court in St. Louis agreed with EFI, invalidating all of L&P's asserted patent claims and ordering L&P to pay EFI's costs to defend the lawsuit. The US Federal Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that conclusion in its entirety. In July 2009, the US District Court held that a second L&P patent (U.S. Patent No. 7,290,874) is also invalid in light of EFI's patents and printer design technology.

On April 21, 2009, L&P sued EFI again, alleging infringement of a third L&P patent (U.S. Patent No. 7,520,602). As with the two other patents, EFI moved for summary judgment to invalidate this third patent using the same prior art previously relied upon by the court. Faced with the very real possibility of losing a third patent, L&P approached EFI to settle the dispute. Under the settlement, EFI will pay nothing, agreeing to dismiss its claims that the '602 patent is invalid and to not oppose L&P's motion to vacate the July 2009 decision invalidating the '874 patent. L&P dismissed all claims against EFI and promised not to sue EFI or its customers under these patents or any related patent.

"We are very pleased with this result. A settlement like this-with a patent plaintiff walking away with no payment whatsoever-is rare in modern patent litigation," said EFI's General Counsel Bryan Ko. "This settlement establishes conclusively what we've maintained all along: that EFI invented and patented this technology first."

Celestial honours for Fujifilm president and CEO

Fujifilm logo

Shigetaka Komori, president and CEO, FUJIFILM Holdings Corporation, has received the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, in recognition of his accomplishments in industry and in furthering culture through his leadership roles at Fujifilm, Japan's Broadcasting Company—NHK, and a range of industry and cultural organisations.

The Order of the Rising Sun was the first national decoration awarded by the Japanese Government, and was created in 1875. The design of the badge and ribbon presented to signify the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star conveys the powerful energy of the sun and Japan's designation as the "Land of the Rising Sun."

During his tenure at Fujifilm, Komori has been instrumental in advancing the principles of corporate social responsibility throughout the global Fujifilm Group. Komori's most significant initiative has been the implementation of a series of far-reaching growth measures which have led to a dramatic transformation of the company's business structure through intensive investments in facilities, and research and development activities in new, high-growth business fields.

Komori serves as president of the Japan-German Society and the Japan-Netherlands Society. His contributions were recognized in 2004 when he was awarded the Medal with Blue Ribbon by His Majesty the Emperor of Japan. In 2006, the Photo Marketing Association International (PMA) awarded Komori the Hall of Fame award, its highest honour. Also in 2006, he received the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany from His Majesty the President of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Agfa increases gross profit through efficiency programs

AGFA :mPress Tiger

Compared to the third quarter of 2008, Group sales decreased 8.1 percent to 681 million Euro, which indicates that the crisis-driven decline in Agfa-Gevaert's markets is bottoming-out.

The Group's recurring gross profit margin improved from 30.1 percent in the third quarter of 2008 to 32.3 percent. It was positively influenced by efficiency programs, lower raw material prices and certain one-off effects and negatively impacted by manufacturing inefficiencies due to lower use of capacity.

Continuing its strict cost management, Agfa-Gevaert further reduced its Selling and General Administration expenses. The average monthly SG&A expense was brought down from 51 million Euro in the third quarter of 2008, to 44 million Euro in the third quarter of 2009, which is a cost decrease by 13.7 percent. The SG&A expenses represented 19.4 percent of sales, versus 20.8 percent in the third quarter of 2008.

The Group's recurring EBITDA (the sum of Graphics, HealthCare, Specialty Products and the unallocated portion) increased from 54 million Euro in the third quarter of 2008 to 68 million Euro. Recurring EBIT increased strongly from 27 million Euro to 43 million Euro.

The restructuring and non-recurring items resulted in an expense of 7 million Euro, versus 8 million Euro in the third quarter of 2008.

As in the first half of 2009, the non-operating result was affected by pension provisions (mainly concerning inactives), to cover for increased pension deficits in theUSAand theUK. The non-operating result amounted to minus 23 million Euro.

Taxes amounted to 8 million Euro, the same as in the third quarter of 2008.

The net result amounted to 4 million Euro, compared to minus 13 million Euro in the third quarter of 2008.
Balance sheet and cash flow

* At the end of September 2009, total assets were 2,931 million Euro, compared to 3,160 million Euro at the end of 2008.
* Inventories were 514 million Euro (or 97 days). Trade receivables (including deferred revenue and advanced payments) amounted to 532 million Euro, or 70 days and trade payables were 190 million Euro, or 36 days.
* Notwithstanding the limited impact of the securitization program, net financial debt improved to 500 million Euro at the end of September 2009, compared to 569 million Euro at the end of June 2009. Net financial debt improved by 350 million Euro over the past 2 years.
* Net operating cash flow amounted to 55 million Euro.

Agfa Graphics' sales decreased 8.8 percent versus last year's third quarter. Both the market environment and the activity levels were in line with the second quarter, but sales were positively influenced by certain one-off effects.

Profitability was positively impacted by efficiency programs, by lower raw material prices and by the above mentioned one-off effects. Negative effects came from the underutilization of the manufacturing capacity, bad debt provisions and competitive pressure. Compared to the third quarter of 2008, Agfa Graphics further reduced its Sales and General Administration expense with 9 million Euro.
The recurringEBITDA margin amounted to 8.8 percent of sales. The recurring EBIT margin increased to 5.6 percent of sales.

In prepress, Agfa Graphics received its first order for :N92v printing plates from the Chinese Guangzhou Daily, one of the world's top 100 daily newspapers. Furthermore, Agfa Graphics supplied an :Avalon N8 platesetter to Sungwon Adpia, the largest consumer of Computer-to-Plate printing plates in the Korean Printing industry.

In Norway, Agfa Graphics signed an important contract with Hjemmet Mortensen Trykkeri AS, the largest printer in the country. The deal includes the installation of two :Avalon N16 platesetters, a service contract as well as a three-year contract for :Energy Elite printing plates. Agfa Graphics also signed an exclusive 5-year printing plate contract with Roularta Media Group, a majorBelgian-French publishing and printing firm.

Also in prepress, Agfa Graphics announced the signing of an agreement with Kemtek Imaging Systems Ltd. for the distribution, service and support of Agfa Graphics' product range for commercial printers in Southern Africa.

In industrial inkjet, Agfa Graphics' next generation range of :Anapurna large-format printers continued the success of the last quarters. With contracts signed all over the world, Agfa Graphics was able to expand its market position in the large-format segment.

Furthermore, Agfa Graphics introduced new features for its :Dotrix Modular inkjet press. The new Express Print Mode increases the press' productivity by 35 percent. The second feature expands the :Dotrix Modular's color gamut.

In the USA, Digital Packaging Solutions recently installed Agfa Graphics' :Dotrix Modular press. The system enables the company to deliver on-demand services for the packaging industry.

The world's first :M-Press Tiger was successfully installed at the SMP Group in London. The :M-Press Tiger is the second generation of the :M-Press industrial flatbed press. In recent months, various orders were booked for Agfa Graphics' high-end inkjet press.

Outlook - For the rest of the year, the Agfa-Gevaert Group does not expect major changes in the market environment.

Kodak's revenue drops 26%, loss of $81M on quarter

Kodak logo

Eastman Kodak Company has reported third-quarter 2009 results that reflect improved operating performance in a number of businesses, contributing to significant year-over-year improvement in cash performance including positive cash generation before restructuring payments.

The company’s third-quarter results also demonstrate the success of continued focused investments that Kodak is making in new products and core growth businesses, especially consumer and commercial inkjet. Cost containment and more tightly focused spending on research and development also positively contributed to the company’s third-quarter results. Consistent with its seasonal trend, the company expects cash and earnings performance to improve significantly in the fourth quarter of the year.

The company’s ability to achieve significant improvement in fourth-quarter results is predicated upon a modest improvement in the market for its consumer and commercial products, the introduction of new, higher-margin digital cameras and devices, stronger demand for its Prepress products, and the benefits from a number of intellectual property transactions executed in a manner that maximize shareholder value.

“On a sequential basis, the positive trends are clear. Our sales are stabilizing and some businesses are showing real signs of growth in the fourth quarter. That, combined with operational improvements in several of our key product lines, increases our optimism for significant improvement in the fourth quarter, our largest quarter of the year,” said Antonio M. Perez, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Eastman Kodak Company. “We also continue to gain significant traction with our new consumer and commercial inkjet businesses, and the productivity improvements that we’ve implemented thus far are helping to drive improved cash performance. We believe all of these factors are sustainable and they give me increased confidence that we are on track for a much improved fourth-quarter performance and achievement of our full-year earnings and cash targets.

“Our consumer inkjet hardware and ink products enjoyed another quarter of revenue growth that exceeded 100 percent, earning us a larger share of the market, and commercial inkjet customer commitments for our PROSPER Press Platform continue to grow rapidly in anticipation of delivery beginning in early 2010. While consumer demand and commercial credit markets remain constrained for the time being, we are well positioned to deliver sustained profitability as the economy improves.”    

For the third quarter of 2009:

* Sales worldwide totaled $1.781 billion, a decrease of 26% from $2.405 billion in the third quarter of 2008, including 2% of unfavorable foreign exchange impact. Revenue from digital businesses totaled $1.209 billion, a 26% decline from $1.641 billion in the prior-year quarter, primarily as a result of the global recession and continued restrictions in the credit markets that are dampening commercial printing purchases. Revenue from the company’s traditional business decreased 25% to $572 million, in line with the industry decline.
* The company’s third-quarter loss from continuing operations, before interest expense, other income (charges), net, and income taxes was $81 million, compared with earnings on the same basis of $147 million in the year-ago quarter.

On the basis of U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), the company reported a third-quarter loss from continuing operations of $111 million, or $0.41 per share, compared with earnings on the same basis of $101 million, or $0.35 per share, in the year-ago period. Items of net expense that impacted comparability in the third quarter of 2009 totaled $48 million after tax, or $0.18 per share, primarily related to restructuring charges, asset sales, and tax related items. Items of net benefit that impacted comparability in the third quarter of 2008 totaled $40 million after tax, or $0.13 per share, due primarily to certain changes to the company’s post-employment benefits, partially offset by restructuring and rationalization costs. (Please refer to the attached Items of Comparability table for more information.)

Other third-quarter 2009 details:

* Gross Profit was 20.3% of sales, a decline from 27.5% in the year-ago period. This decline in margin was driven by lower intellectual property licensing royalties and unfavorable foreign exchange, partially offset by continued productivity improvements.
* Selling, General and Administrative (SG&A) expenses, on a GAAP basis, were $318 million in the third quarter, down 14%, or $51 million, from $369 million in the year-ago quarter, as a result of company-wide efficiency gains. Excluding a non-cash benefit from a change in the company’s post-employment benefits in the prior year quarter, the company reduced SG&A expenses, relative to the prior year quarter, by $78 million, or 20%.
* Research and Development expenses, on a GAAP basis, were $81 million in the third quarter, down 15%, or $14 million, from $95 million in the year-ago quarter, driven by a focus on investments in core growth businesses. Excluding a non-cash benefit in the prior year quarter, the company reduced R&D expenses, relative to the prior year quarter, by $33 million, or 29%.
* Third-quarter 2009 cash generation, before restructuring payments, was $29 million, compared with cash usage on the same basis of $78 million in the year-ago quarter. This corresponds to net cash used in continuing operations from operating activities on a GAAP basis of $16 million in the third quarter, compared with a net cash usage of $47 million in the third quarter of 2008. As was the case in 2008, the company expects to generate the majority of its cash flow in the fourth quarter of the year, consistent with its historic seasonal pattern.
* Kodak held $1.147 billion in cash and cash equivalents as of September 30, 2009, up from $1.132 billion on June 30. This excludes $575 million of restricted cash that the company deposited in a cash collateral account to be used to fund the previously announced repurchase of Convertible Senior Notes due 2033.
* The company’s debt level stood at $1.748 billion as of September 30, 2009, and includes $575 million in Convertible Senior Notes due 2033, for which the company completed a tender offer on October 19, 2009. As of the tender offer expiration date, approximately 98% of the outstanding 2033 Notes were tendered, representing an aggregate principal amount of approximately $563 million. The company’s debt balance as of September 30, 2009 would have been $1.185 billion if the tender offer for the 2033 Notes had been completed at that date.

Segment sales and earnings from continuing operations before interest, taxes, and other income and charges (segment earnings from operations), are as follows:

* Consumer Digital Imaging Group third-quarter sales were $535 million, a 35% decline from the prior-year quarter, including a decrease in intellectual property royalties. Third-quarter loss from operations for the segment was $89 million, compared with a profit of $24 million in the year-ago quarter. The year-over-year variance was driven by lower intellectual property licensing royalties of $157 million. Excluding the impact of intellectual property royalties, segment earnings improved. This was driven by improved profitability in consumer inkjet systems, including a 128% revenue increase in consumer inkjet printer hardware and ink and lower costs as a result of the company’s move to a more efficient product platform; improved operating performance in Digital Capture & Devices; and reduced SG&A and R&D expenses across the segment.
* Graphic Communications Group third-quarter 2009 sales were $674 million, an 18% decline from the third quarter of 2008. This revenue decrease was primarily driven by a market-related decline of 16% in Prepress Solutions as well as associated declines in workflow. Third-quarter earnings from operations for the segment totaled $10 million, compared with earnings of $22 million in the year-ago quarter. This earnings decline was primarily driven by lower volume, which resulted in unfavorable factory absorption and negative price/mix across several product lines, along with a negative impact from foreign exchange, partially offset by cost reduction efforts across all product lines and significant operational improvements in Electrophotographic Printing Solutions.
* Film, Photofinishing and Entertainment Group third-quarter sales were $572 million, a 25% decline from the year-ago quarter. Third-quarter earnings from operations for the segment were $47 million, compared with earnings of $77 million in the year-ago period. The decrease in earnings was driven by industry-related declines in volumes, negative price/mix, and unfavorable foreign exchange, partially offset by significant operational improvements in Traditional Photofinishing, cost reductions across the segment, and improvement in raw material costs.

2009 Outlook

Kodak today provided an updated outlook regarding its targets for 2009 performance, recognizing the ongoing uncertainty created by the global economic environment.

* For the full year, Kodak now expects its total revenue decline rate to be at the high end of the previously forecasted range of 12% to 18%, due, in part, to results to date and to the company’s increased focus on cash and earnings.
* Kodak is targeting 2009 segment earnings that will be within the previously communicated range of $0 to $200 million. Correspondingly, the company previously forecasted 2009 GAAP loss from continuing operations of $200 million to $400 million, and continues to forecast that GAAP results will be at the low end of that range, reflecting its latest assessment of restructuring charges, interest expense, and interest income.
* For full-year 2009, the company reiterates its goal to achieve positive cash generation before restructuring payments. This corresponds to a 2009 goal of net cash used in continuing operations from operating activities on a GAAP basis of not more than $250 million.

EFI reports Q3 2009 results - sequential revenue growth reported

EFI logo

Electronics For Imaging, Inc., a world leader in customer-focused digital printing innovation, has announced its results for the third quarter of 2009. For the quarter ended September 30, 2009, the Company reported revenues of $100.9 million, compared to third quarter 2008 revenue of $144.7 million.

GAAP net loss was $(12.2) million or $(0.25) per diluted share in the third quarter of 2009, compared to a GAAP net loss of $(3.6) million or $(0.07) per diluted share for the same period in 2008.

GAAP net income was $1.2 million or $0.02 per diluted share for the nine months ended September 30, 2009, compared to a GAAP net loss of $(8.9) million or $(0.17) per diluted share for the same period in 2008.

Non-GAAP net loss was $(2.6) million or $(0.05) per diluted share in the third quarter of 2009, compared to non-GAAP net income of $10.4 million or $0.20 per diluted share for the same period in 2008.

Non-GAAP net loss was $(13.1) million or $(0.26) per diluted share for the nine months ended September 30, 2009, compared to non-GAAP net income of $34.5 million or $0.61 per diluted share for the same period in 2008.

"We are pleased with the sequential revenue increases in all our lines of business, led by 22% growth in our inkjet business driven by several new inkjet product introductions," said Guy Gecht, CEO of EFI. "We will continue to bring industry-leading innovation to the market and expect our positive momentum to continue which combined with strict cost controls should result in our return to profitability in the current quarter."

Separately, the Company announced today that its Board of Directors has approved the use of the balance, in the amount of $70 million, of its previously authorized $100 million share repurchase program.