Bobst sales down 29% compared to H1 2019

Bobst 2020 first half-year financial results

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Bobst has production facilities on three continents, as well as a sales and services network with facilities in more than fifty individual countries. Graphic Bobst
Bobst has production facilities on three continents, as well as a sales and services network with facilities in more than fifty individual countries. Graphic Bobst

Mex, Switzerland, 27 July 2020 – The spread of Covid-19 had a significant impact on Bobst Group’s 2020 first half-year figures. Bobst Group recorded CHF 523.8 million sales for the first six months

of 2020, compared to CHF 736.8 million in the first half of 2019. The operating result (EBIT) decreased to CHF -25.1 million compared to CHF 14.8 million in 2019. The net result reached CHF -30.0 million, down from CHF 7.4 million in the previous year. Order entries decreased by 21%, and the order backlog is 10% lower than in the previous year.

Despite the remaining uncertainties, the company expects to improve its results in the second half of 2020. However, it still expects these to be below the levels achieved in the second half of 2019. Bobst’s new industry vision to shape the future of the packaging world was unveiled in June, and it is adapting the organization to implement it. The machine Business Units are being merged, and the Group Executive Committee reduced from five to four members.

During the first half of 2020, consolidated sales amounted to CHF 523.8 million, representing a decrease of CHF 213.0 million, or -28.9%, compared with the same period in 2019. Volume and price variances had a negative impact of CHF 199.2 million or -27.0%. The exchange rates had an overall negative impact on sales of CHF 23.9 million. The evolution due to the conversion of foreign currencies for consolidation accounts for CHF -21.4 million, or -2.9%, and the transactional impact on sales volume from the company’s Swiss operations accounts for CHF -2.5 million, or -0.3%. An improvement of CHF 10.1 million, or +1.4%, came from a change in scope of consolidation due to the acquisitions of Yancheng Hongjing Machinery Technology Co., Ltd, Dongtai, China, completed 6 January 2020, and of Cito-System GmbH, Schwaig, Germany, completed on 8 April 2020.

Table 1 Source Bobst
Table 1 Sales by Business Unit Source Bobst

The reduction of consolidated sales was partly due to lower backlog at the beginning of the year and lower order intake than the first six months of 2019, but mostly due to the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown. Most machine installations and service interventions scheduled for the second quarter of 2020 could not be performed as planned due to travel bans, which significantly impacted revenue recognition.

The operating result (EBIT) reached CHF -25.1 million compared with CHF 14.8 million for the same period in 2019. The impact of the Covid-19 lockdown, which led to lower utilization of the industrial capacities and significantly lower sales compared to the level achieved in the same period of 2019, led to the reduction of the operating result (EBIT). Measures such as short-time work, a hiring freeze, cost reduction, and cost containment reduced the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, but could not compensate for the negative effects by far.

The operating result (EBIT) for Business Unit Sheet-fed decreased from CHF 12.1 million in the first half of 2019 to CHF -17.4 million in the first half of 2020. Significantly lower sales in the first half of the year and lower utilization of the industrial capacities due to the lockdown led to this drop in operating result (EBIT).

The operating result (EBIT) for Business Unit Web-fed was CHF -27.0 million in the first half of 2020 compared to CHF -21.4 million in the first six months of 2019. The quality campaign started in 2018, and new products launched in the last two years showed very promising results. Business Unit Web-fed suffered particularly from the lockdown as most of its Field Service Technicians are based in Europe and could not travel to perform machine installations.

The Business Unit Services was less impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic as the spare parts supply chain proved to be very efficient and resilient. Also, part of the service and technical support interventions could be performed remotely. The Business Unit’s operating result (EBIT) was CHF 20.2 million in the first half of 2020 compared with CHF 25.3 million in the same period in 2019.

Table 2 Source Bobst
Table 2 EBIT by Business Unit Source Bobst

The reduction of consolidated sales was partly due to lower backlog at the beginning of the year and lower order intake compared to the first six months of 2019, but mostly due to the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown. Most machine installations and service interventions scheduled for the second quarter of 2020 could not be performed as planned due to travel bans, which had a significant impact on revenue recognition.

The operating result (EBIT) reached CHF -25.1 million compared with CHF 14.8 million for the same period in 2019. The impact of the Covid-19 lockdown, which led to lower utilization of the industrial capacities and significantly lower sales compared to the level achieved in the same period of 2019, led to the reduction of the operating result (EBIT). Measures such as short-time work, a hiring freeze, cost reduction, and cost containment reduced the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, but could not compensate for the negative impact by far.

The operating result (EBIT) for Business Unit Sheet-fed decreased from CHF 12.1 million in the first half of 2019 to CHF -17.4 million in the first half of 2020. Significantly lower sales in the first half of the year and lower utilization of the industrial capacities due to the lockdown led to this drop in operating result (EBIT).

The operating result (EBIT) for Business Unit Web-fed was CHF -27.0 million in the first half of 2020 compared to CHF -21.4 million in the first six months of 2019. The quality campaign started in 2018, and new products launched in the last two years showed very promising results. Business Unit Web-fed suffered particularly from the lockdown as most of its Field Service Technicians are based in Europe and could not travel to perform machine installations.

Business Unit Services was less impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic as the spare parts supply chain proved to be very efficient and resilient, and part of the service and technical support interventions could be performed remotely. The Business Unit’s operating result (EBIT) was CHF 20.2 million in the first half of 2020 compared with CHF 25.3 million in the same period in 2019.

Business activity and outlook by business unit

Business Unit Sheet-fed
Total bookings in the first half of the year were impacted by Covid-19 and uncertainty in the global economy, with a 31% decrease compared to the same period of 2019. Despite this situation, most mature markets have posted bookings in line with our expectations, but this has not offset the strong negative impact on business in several emerging countries. In the first half of the year, folding carton activities have been more active than corrugated board and laminating.

Sales are down 35% in the first half of 2020 compared to the previous year, due to lower backlog at the beginning of the year compared to 2019 and the impossibility of shipping machines during the lockdown period. The delay accumulated during the lockdown has heavily impacted our supply chain, and the impact will not be fully recovered in the second half of 2020.

Since May 2020, we have seen a promising increase in project pipelines in both emerging and mature markets, and the outlook for year-end has improved in terms of bookings. Nevertheless, there is still a lot of uncertainty in the upcoming months, which may impact the full-year result.

Business Unit Web-fed
A significant number of shipments and installations of equipment in the first half-year needed to be postponed due to Covid-19 pandemic restrictions and temporary closing of our sites and customers’ factories. It is expected that a noteworthy catch-up of shipments can be achieved in the second half-year, which will generate an important increase in sales. However, the full year 2020 sales are expected to be lower than in the previous year.

While the Chinese market recovered rapidly after the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, other markets went through a slowdown of equipment investments. However, as the pandemic created intense packaging demand for the high consumption segments such as food, pharma, and home and personal care, market activities may considerably evolve in the second half of the year. As the current unstable economic situation strongly affects some market players, customers may put more value on choosing a solid business partner.

In line with the new Group strategy to reduce its presence at industry tradeshows, several virtual events were organized to launch and promote our new solutions in the market.

Business Unit Services
The first half-year sales for the Business Unit Services were 10% below the same period in 2019 (excluding the CITO acquisition). The second half of March saw the unfolding of Covid-19, impacting business volumes of both sales of parts and services as the mobility of field service technicians was significantly reduced. Asian markets were the most impacted, and China had the worst decline in the region. In Europe and North America, the impact was less significant, showing greater resilience.

The Business Unit Services expects to see a gradual return to normal demand for the second half of 2020, provided that global health conditions do not deteriorate further in its key regions and markets (particularly in North America).

The Business Unit Services will continue to support customers despite adverse conditions, thereby protecting the observed high level of satisfaction. The focus for the remainder of 2020 will be to secure the supply chain for spare parts and further optimize service interventions, including remotely, when possible. In parallel, the Business Unit Services will continue to pursue the digitalization of its activities and the integration of the recent CITO acquisition.

Outlook for the second half of 2020 

In June, Bobst unveiled its new vision for the packaging industry and launched a new range of machines and solutions. The Bobst vision shapes a new reality where connectivity, digitalization, automation, and sustainability are the cornerstones of packaging production. Bobst continues to deliver best-in-class machines and is now adding intelligence, software capabilities, and cloud-based platforms, to make packaging production better.

At the heart of this vision is Bobst Connect, an open architecture cloud-based platform delivering solutions for pre-press, production, process optimization, maintenance, and market access. It ensures an efficient dataflow between the digital and physical worlds. It will orchestrate the entire production process from the client’s PDF to the finished product. To implement this new vision, the group is adapting its organization.

The Group Executive Committee has been reduced from five to four members. The two machine business units are being merged. Stephan März, the current head of the Business Unit Web-fed, will lead this new Business Unit. Julien Laran will continue to lead the Business Unit Services. This group transformation will lead to a simplification of the organization and support the achievement of the group’s long-term financial targets.

Uncertainty remains high in our relevant markets due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation. If borders between countries remain open and air travel will further improve, the group expects a second half of the year 2020 on a significantly higher level than the first six months of this year. However, it will not be possible to achieve the same results as in the second half of 2019 as some constraints linked to the pandemic situation remain. The long-term financial targets of at least 8% operating result (EBIT) and a minimum 20% return on capital employed (ROCE) might have to be adapted according to the evolution of the global economy.