15 Jul 2020

Agfa reports weak Q1 but look towards further recovery in graphics market

Agfa Logo

Compared to 2008, Group revenue decreased 9.1 percent to 2,755 million Euro. The crisis-driven decline in Agfa-Gevaert's markets started to bottom-out in the second half of the year.

In spite of the sales decline and manufacturing inefficiencies due to lower use of capacity in the first quarters of the year, the Group's recurring gross profit margin improved from 31.7 percent in 2008 to 32.2 percent. This was mainly due to the successful efficiency improvement programs, lower raw material prices and certain one-off effects.

Agfa-Gevaert is ahead of its plans to reduce its Selling and General Administration expenses. The average monthly SG&A expense was brought down from 64 million Euro in 2007 and 54 million Euro in 2008 to 46 million Euro in 2009. The year on year SG&A cost decrease amounted to 14.5 percent. The SG&A expenses represented 20.1 percent of revenue, compared to 23.3 percent in 2007 and 21.3 percent in 2008.

The Group's recurring EBITDA (the sum of Graphics, HealthCare, Specialty Products and the unallocated portion) increased from 251 million Euro in 2008 to 284 million Euro. Recurring EBIT improved from 135 million Euro to 182 million Euro.

Restructuring and non-recurring items resulted in an expense of 12 million Euro, versus an expense of 158 million Euro in 2008.The 2009 figures were positively influenced by changes in the post-retirement medical plans in theUSAand by changes in the defined benefit plans in theUSAandGermany.The 2008 figures were affected by a considerable impairment loss on goodwill.

The net finance costs amounted to minus 114 million Euro, compared to minus 83 million Euro in 2008. This increase was due to the increased pension deficit, which was caused by the evolution of the stock markets in 2008.

Income tax expense amounted to 49 million Euro versus 60 million Euro in 2008. Current tax expense amounted to 14 million Euro and deferred tax expense amounted to 35 million Euro (non-cash item).

Mainly due to the strong operational performance in all business groups in the last quarters of the year, a positive net result of 6 million Euro was booked, compared to minus 167 million Euro in 2008. The 2008 result was subject to the aforementioned impairment loss, an exceptional tax charge and considerable restructuring costs.

Balance sheet and cash flow

  • At the end of 2009, total assets were 2,852 million Euro, compared to 3,160 million Euro at the end of 2008.
  • Inventories were 483 million Euro (or 93 days). Trade receivables (minus deferred revenue and advanced payments from customers) amounted to 469 million Euro, or 58 days and trade payables were 206 million Euro, or 40 days.
  • Due to continued targeted efforts, net financial debt improved to 445 million Euro, versus 673 million Euro at the end of 2008 and 721 million Euro at the end of 2007.
  • Net cash from operating activities amounted to 266 million Euro.

 

Agfa Graphics' revenue decreased 11.9 percent compared to 2008. The effects of the economic slowdown - which surfaced in the course of 2008 - persisted in the first quarters of 2009. In the second half of the year the crisis-driven decline started to bottom-out. In the last months of 2009 both the prepress and the inkjet market started to recover, mainly inNorth Americaand the emerging countries. However, the crisis-related increased competitive pressure in the Computer-to-Plate segment continued throughout the year.

Agfa Graphics is successfully implementing its plans to reduce its SG&A costs. Compared to 2008, these costs were reduced by50million Euro.

Together with the measures to improve operational efficiency, these efforts clearly supported Agfa Graphics' profitability, resulting in a particularly strong fourth quarter performance. Lower raw material prices and certain one-off effects also had a positive influence. Year-on-year, these beneficial elements were counterbalanced by crisis-related elements, such as the underutilization of the manufacturing capacity, bad debt provisions and increased competitive pressure.

Fourth quarter results

The Agfa-Gevaert Group's fourth quarter revenue decreased 3.4 percent compared to the corresponding period in 2008. Excluding currency effects, the decline would be limited to 1.0 percent. This improvement compared to the previous quarters of the year shows that Agfa-Gevaert's markets are starting to recover from the effects of the economic crisis.

The Group reduced its SG&A costs by 17 million Euro compared to the fourth quarter of 2008. By reducing their costs and improving their operational efficiency, all business groups contributed to the strong improvement of profitability. The recurring EBITDA increased to 97 million Euro (13.2 percent of revenue) and the recurring EBIT increased to 73 million Euro (9.9 percent of revenue). The Group's net result amounted to 20 million Euro.

Recent judgments in arbitration cases relating to AgfaPhoto - such as the judgments concerning the hereditary building rights and the alleged misconduct of Agfa-Gevaert in connection with the sale of the Consumer Imaging division - have been in favor of Agfa-Gevaert.

Agfa Graphics

Traditionally, the fourth quarter is the strongest for the printing industry. Agfa Graphics' revenue decreased 6.8 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2008. The decline is far less pronounced than in the previous quarters of the year, due to the strong performance of the Computer-to-Film segment in the BRIC countries, the booking of revenues for a number of contracts for high-end inkjet equipment and the burgeoning recovery of the graphic markets. The shift of part of the film business (for Computer-to-Film applications) from Agfa Specialty Products to Agfa Graphics as a result of changes in the competitive landscape also had a beneficial impact on Agfa Graphics' revenue. The business group's efforts to reduce its operational costs are clearly paying off. The recurring EBITDA margin improved to 11.5 percent and the EBIT margin to 8.5 percent.

In industrial inkjet, the highlight of the fourth quarter of 2009 was the agreement to acquire most of the assets of Gandi Innovations Holdings LLC's North American operations and the shares of its principal foreign subsidiaries. Gandi Innovations is a leading supplier of large format inkjet printing systems in the mid-range market segment. Their product offering is complementary to Agfa Graphics' range of entry-level :Anapurna large format printers and high-end :M-Press Tiger and :Dotrix inkjet machines. The deal was finalized in the beginning of 2010.

Also in inkjet, new :M-Press Tiger presses - the second generation of the :M-Press industrial flatbed press - will soon be installed at printers in theUK,Australia,Canada, theUSAandFrance.In the fourth quarter, the :Anapurna large format printers also continued to sell well. As their installed base is growing gradually, these systems are now starting to generate more substantial ink sales.

In the field of prepress, Agfa Graphics unveiled a number of technological innovations at the IFRA 2009 newspaper trade show (Vienna,Austria). These innovations allow newspaper printers to improve the efficiency of their prepress departments. :Arkitex Portal, for instance, is a new addition to Agfa Graphics' popular :Arkitex software for managing and controlling the production process for newspaper publishers. Agfa Graphics also introduced a high speed option for its range of :Advantage N platesetters. Due to the new option, platesetters can produce significantly more printing plates per hour.

In January 2010, Agfa Graphics signed a letter of intent with its business partner Shenzhen Brothers for the establishment of a joint venture aiming at reinforcing both partners' market position in the Greater China and ASEAN region.Agfa Graphics is convinced that the combination of Shenzhen Brothers' strong relationship with local suppliers and governments and Agfa Graphics' know-how and leading technology will facilitate the realization of both companies' ambitious growth plans.

Outlook

It is expected that the graphic markets will continue to recover in the course of 2010. At present, the recovery is stronger in North America and the emerging countries than in most Western European countries. As a result, Agfa Graphics expects a stronger first quarter performance in 2010. The effects of the aforementioned acquisition of Gandi Innovations will slowly become apparent in the course of the year. The effects of the joint venture with the Chinese Shenzhen Brothers company will start to kick in in the course of the second half of the year.

Durst to Showcase Rho 500R and Rho 800HS at ISA 2010

Durst Rho 500r

Attendees at this year's International Sign Expo, April 7-10 in Orlando, will find on display two production UV inkjet digital print platforms from Durst – the 5-meter Rho 500R for roll printing, and the 98-inch Rho 800HS mainly for rigid substrate printing – both of which are well suited to the evolving market that sign shop operators are facing.

These two printers will be fully operational throughout the exhibit, which is taking place in Hall A of the Orange County Convention Center, in Durst booth #2548. Visitors will be able to evaluate their operating performance, as well as their versatility in executing an extremely broad range of display and signage applications, the company said.

"With the technology taking signage and commercial display into so many new areas, our Rho 500R and Rho 800HS can be an excellent fit for innovative sign vendors who want to go where the market is heading, and are always looking to improve their offerings and their performance," said Christopher Howard, senior vice president of sales & marketing for Durst US. "Whatever the application, whatever the media, whatever the turnaround time – these Rho printers deliver outstanding results. We're very pleased to be able to bring them to this year's Sign Expo."

The Rho 500R – selected as the Digital Printing & Imaging Association's Product of the Year in the grand-format roll-to-roll UV-cured ink printer category – can print three different images on three separate media rolls simultaneously across its 5-meter width. It prints six-colour, 600-dpi images on just about any roll media at speeds up to 400 sq.m/hr. The Rho 500R operates unattended, uses less ink than comparable superwide platforms, and minimizes operation costs due to its high productivity, advanced workflow and versatility.

A precise rail with linear motor drive system, a proven front-to-back registration system, along with a mesh and textile printing option, combine to make the Rho 500R one of the most effective, economical large-format imagers ever developed. It employs Durst's Quadro 30D Array print head technology, which doubles the number of nozzles per color to 2,048. Along with ink temperature regulation and Durst's proprietary Point Drop Setting system to deliver the highest image quality at the highest speed, print output capabilities are raised by about 80 percent.

The Rho 800HS employs Durst's Quadro 30D Array print head technology, and utilizes the same continuous board printing system found in the Rho 800 Presto. The Rho 800HS can print on multiple narrow boards across its 98-inch width, on materials up to 2.75 inches thick, at a top speed of more than 185 sq.m/hr. In its two-pass mode, it delivers exceptional image quality at nearly 110 sq.m/hr.

The Rho 800HS also is compatible with Durst's roll feed/take-up accessory, designed for long runs and fast media changes. It handles oversized rolls up to 440 pounds (200kg), diameters up to 12 inches (30cm), and widths up to 98 inches (249cm).

 

HP Iberia Strengthens sign and display sales and service team

Hp Cristobal Macedo

As brand managers develop new ways to increase sales and gain market share in the tough economic market, they are turning to large format digital printing to create impact and deliver timely, targeted campaigns.

With this in mind, HP has strengthened its Iberian team in order to meet PSPs' requirements for printers that deliver the innovative applications demanded by their customers. New HP printers, such as those using HP Latex Inks or the HP Scitex FB7500, which targets traditional screen-printing applications, are helping both PSPs and their customers develop new business opportunities.

The new sign and display team comprises:

Cristobal Macedo, who joins as HP Scitex regional manager for Iberia, as well as Encarna Luque, who will supply PSPs with all their after sales support. Victor Ortiz  Rafael Godino, Esteban Mogas and Carlos Coelho (Portugal) continue in a sales capacity with Eduard Simo as channel manager, while Luis Christophe continues in his marketing role. Additionally, four new field engineers under the guidance of Mariano Monjas have joined the team in order to provide an on-demand service to PSPs. They are; Cristobal Aragon Francisco Lopez, Andrea Benvenuto and Frank Maus (Portugal) and will offer PSPs a faster and more efficient service in SPain and Portugal.

Fujifilm and Urban Storm stretch the limits in outdoor advertising

 

Urban Storm

It’s immediately apparent when talking to Sam Cook, director of UK-based Urban Storm, that here is a company setting out to make a real difference in the outdoor advertising and billboard sector. In order to do so, they have partnered with Fujifilm to make use of both its technological and business expertise.

Bristol & London-based Urban Storm has been in operation since 2001, specialising in the large format market, outdoor advertising and banner sector. Sam started out in 1989 with ‘Scaffoltising’ and so far has five patents to his name. He is also known for being the first company in the UK to wrap a building. From 2007 his partnership with co-director Kevin Shute has allowed him to focus on media expertise as well as his passion for engineering, differentiating Urban Storm from other printing firms.

Outdoor advertising has been suffering for some time as brand owners demand premium quality products, while site owners aim to reduce costs and alleviate negative effects on the environment. Recognising the need for something innovative to resolve this conflict, Sam and Kevin have been looking for ways to produce a high-quality, environmentally friendly and lower-cost (to the printer) outdoor system.

New horizons

The result is the design and patent of the STORMFLEX system. This is a rigid frame containing a number of patented quick release poster clamps which can each bear 85kg on light weight 110g polyethylene (PE), holding a fully recyclable PE ECOFLEX poster in place, and meeting all engineering standards required for outdoor use. The weight-bearing capacity of the clamps allows the poster to be fully tensioned in order that it remains drum-tight and the graphics lie completely flat, giving a high-definition finish. Further to reducing costs for clients, the increase in quality is so great that a perceived increase in the value of the site is also recognised.

“When considering our objectives for the new system, the environment was high on our list. PE material can be recycled into any number of other products after use, time and time again, unlike PVC which can only be recycled once”, says Sam. “It is also four times lighter than PVC, and has twice the strength; but the downside is that it’s also incredibly tricky to print on, and UV inks simply wouldn’t stick to it. But, we elected to develop a system using PE because we feel that this is the future of the outdoor advertising world, it meets the needs of the site owners who want to use less paper, and as I’ll explain, Fujifilm came to the rescue with regards to the inks."

“The system has also been designed to eliminate any finishing requirements as the material is stretched via the clamps into the aluminium frame. This cuts the cost of banner production by up to 50%, a potentially huge saving that enables printers to maintain margins in an increasingly difficult market.”

Overcoming challenges with Fujifilm expertise

In order to print effectively onto the PE material, Urban Storm was looking for a superwide format printer and ink technology that could provide the same depth of colour and vibrancy that can be seen on traditional pasted billboard hoardings.

Sam explains, “After a number of trials with different suppliers it was clear that Fujifilm was the only real contender. The business development skills demonstrated by everyone we have been in contact with, and their knowledge of UV ink development and manufacturing, is second to none.

“I have to say that we have been absolutely delighted with the advice from Fujifilm. We worked together to turn the output from the new Uvistar UV inkjet roll-to-roll printer from meeting low end output requirements to producing high quality, high volume work.

The Uvistar can print on rolls up to five metres wide, and in combination with the Uvijet QK inks that have been specially developed for PE, are perfect for Urban Storm’s STORMFLEX systems. “Fujifilm has gone to enormous lengths to ensure that the inks stick well, with fantastic resonance of colour and adhesion. I believe it will alter the way that material for both billboard and POP applications will be prepared in the future,” adds Sam.

Currently, designs are submitted to Urban Storm which uses its Uvistar to print 18m2 (48 sheet) posters onto the PE fabric, with guide marks for the clamps. The posters are then laid flat onto an air table, trimmed to size and can be packed immediately into a pizza-sized box for shipment. The sheets are dry when they come off the printer, there’s no nasty smell, they’re tough but extremely light and can be tightly folded for easy distribution. Sam explains, “We can produce up to 500 posters of 18m2 a day, printing posters every five to ten minutes, and are currently in operation 16 hours a day. From this it is easy to see how we have the potential to expand.”

The STORMFLEX system is incredibly simple to operate and enables one man to change a poster display in approximately 15 minutes. A far cry from the two men needed to paste up traditional billboards, which even for an expert could take anywhere between 25-30 minutes. It really does provide a remarkable time saving and environmental benefit with no pasting mess, no water needed, and no tools other than a winch required.

For outdoor advertisers and printers all over the world this system will open up new opportunities. With such a quick turnaround possible, more posters can be produced and changed over. This brings a huge number of commercial advantages for brand owners and finally enables outdoor advertising to become more of a premium advertising prospect.

In order to capitalise on this new opportunity, Urban Storm and Fujifilm will develop business plans with individual printers to show them what their ROI would look like, and how this can benefit their organisations.

Sam concludes, “There is no doubt in my mind that from now on we will look to Fujifilm for all printing requirements. The quality of service and development know-how has been exceptional.”

 

Sun Chemical Earns Strongest Sustainability Results from NAPIM’s Index Rating for Commercial Sheetfed Inks

Sun Chemical Sustainability

Strengthening its position as a sustainability leader in the inks, pigments and coatings industry for its customers, five of Sun Chemical’s commercial conventional sheetfed inks have earned the highest average index ratings in the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers’ (NAPIM) bio-renewable content (BRC) certification program to date.

The five inks, SunLit Diamond, SunPak Diamond, SunLit Intense, SunLit Exact and SunLit Express, each received a BRC index of 80, an objective rating that means Sun Chemical’s inks use an average of 80 percent renewable resources.

The BRC labeling program is an initiative by NAPIM used to evaluate and minimize the environmental impact of printing inks. The BRC index number is a quantifiable value that is calculated to represent the range of bio-renewable content. The program includes a NAPIM registered label that can be applied to the ink container and a comparable design for use by a printer that uses the inks.

“This achievement is testimony to Sun Chemical’s commitment to sustainability and validates our efforts to develop products that have minimal impact on the environment,” said Michelle Hearn, director of marketing, North American Inks, Sun Chemical. “One of our goals has been to increase the use of renewable materials in our commercial sheetfed offerings to the highest possible levels, and we will work hard to continue improving on what we have already accomplished.”

FESPA Sets Out Eight Steps To Innovation For Visitors To FESPA 2010

Fespa Innovate

FESPA is setting out its ‘Eight Steps to Innovation’, encouraging wide format entrepreneurs to embrace innovation more actively as part of their strategy for future growth.

1. Prepare for Innovation

Gain a thorough understanding of the prevailing external conditions and the likely forecast for your market. When you’re fully aware of the facts, you can choose the direction and type of innovation you want to create.

2. Be creative

Innovation does not exist unless there is creativity first. Innovation is invariably a result of a team effort. No innovator charges into the surf without engaging in dialogue, debate and discussion with the right mix of thinkers.

3. Consider your customer

Being customer-centric is an essential characteristic of the successful innovator. Fully understand their needs, goals and visions. This will help you to get the concept right and the delivery perfect.

4. Make the Effort

Innovation isn’t easy. It takes time, energy and effort, and you must be flexible and challenge the ‘norm’. That ‘eureka moment’ will only come after much time, effort and energy have been expended.

5. Take the Risk

Overcome your fear and accept that innovation is a combination of creativity and risk. If it doesn’t work first time, respect yourself for taking the risk.

6. Leadership

To catch the new wave that hasn’t been caught before, innovation needs strong leadership for your team and for your customers. So invest in yourself to ensure your leadership skills, attitude and belief are strong enough.

7. Accept Feedback

Innovation always needs time to settle. Your ‘beta’ customers must accept improvement over time. The clever innovator will have a very strong relationship with their customers and will get the necessary feedback for success.

8. Communication is everything

Innovation is inspirational, but not if nobody is aware of the innovation! If you’re using innovation to differentiate your business, improve efficiency or profit, make sure you communicate proactively to all your stakeholders.

 

The Eight Steps to Innovation are reproduced in a surf-themed pocket guide for visitors to the FESPA 2010 show (Munich, 26 June 2010), which also includes details of the comprehensive FESPA Innovate! event programme. The steps will also form the basis of a live Innovate! Workshop, hosted on site at the show by FESPA Managing Director Frazer Chesterman and Sales & Marketing Director Marcus Timson.

“The Eight Steps to Innovation is a compact way of making a serious point”, explains Marcus Timson. “Innovation can be intimidating for entrepreneurs, especially when they are steering their businesses out of an economic downturn, with the inevitable focus on efficiency and cost- and cash- management that brings.

He continues, “Innovation is all too often misinterpreted as ‘invention’, making people think that they have to do something revolutionary. That’s far from the truth: often innovation is just about looking at things from a different angle, or harnessing your company’s skills, contacts and resources in different ways. Our clear focus at FESPA 2010 is on helping print service providers to develop the mindset of the innovator, which we firmly believe is one of the keys to the FESPA community’s success.”

To download a copy of the FESPA Innovate! Guide, or find more details of the FESPA Innovate! programme, surf to www.fespa2010.com. To be part of FESPA’s Innovators forum, join FESPA’s Wide Network at www.widenetwork.ning