Bobst boosted by 2023 results

The Bobst Group has reported its financial results for the last year showing some growth but with some reasons for caution though the group says that the supply chain situation has improved significantly since summer 2023.

Sales rose from CHF 1,841 million in 2022 to CHF 1,960 million in 2023, while the net result overall was CHF 119 million, up from CHF 115 million in 2022. The figures show that the value of its sales have rise in all regions, particularly in Africa, which saw a jump from CHF 43.5 million to CHF 71.3 million in 2023. 

Bobst splits its figures into two business units. The Services and Performance division saw its EBIT (Earnings Before Interest and Tax) operating result improve from CHF 97 million to CHF 108 million in 2023. But the Printing and Converting division was badly affected by flooding in November 2023 in its Firenze plant, which mostly covers narrow web flexo. This affected the results by around CHF 25 million. Consequently the EBIT operating result was down to  CHF 42 million compared to CHF 47 million in 2022. Bobst also suffered a cyber attack over the East 2023 weekend, which does not figure in the results as the company is still negotiating with its insurers, noting only that it expects an insurance payment in 2024. 

Overall, incoming orders were down meaning that the order backlog is less at the end of 2023 than at the end of 2022, which will put more pressure on Bobst as Drupa approaches. Bobst opted to increase its net working capital from CHF 113 million to CHF 247 million, to give it more room to manoeuvre. However, since lower orders means fewer deposits being paid, the cash inflow fell from CHF 93 million to CHF 45 million. The overall cash position fell from CHF 67 million in 2022 to a debt of CHF 134 million in 2023, partly due to a dividend of CHF 165 million that was distributed in April 2023. The group’s policy on dividends is to recommend payouts of at least 50 percent of the net consolidated profit after tax. It’s worth remembering that since 2022 the group has been delisted from the SIX Swiss exchange and that 85 percent of the shares are now held by the Bobst family’s JBF Finance company.

The report also mentions two acquisitions. In April 2023 Bobst acquired 70 percent of Ducker Robotics, which is now Bobst Novara, and expects to offer integrated robotic solutions to many of its press customers. In October 2023 Bobst picked up 51 percent of CnS, a South Korean company that manufactures printer slotters and folder glues for flexo printing at the corrugated board industry. This has now been renamed Bobst Korea, with Bobst having an option on the remaining shares.

Bobst has arranged a credit line of CHF 100 million with a syndicate of banks to help manage its liquidity. This has a five years maturity with Bobst having used CHF 40 million by the end of 2023. 

Bobst Group has issued on January 31, 2024 a CHF 200 million debenture bond. The proceeds will be used to reimburse the CHF 135 million debenture bond maturing on September 27, 2024, and for general corporate purposes.

The report finishes by noting that “the Group is expecting 2024 full year sales and operating result (EBIT) to be lower than the levels reached in 2022.”

This is down to the volatile geopolitical situation and tensions between nations, plus the high raw material cost, skills shortage and industrial slowdown in the main markets. The report also highlights the EU’s increasing sustainability requirements, noting the impact of this on packaging. To this end, Bobst is planning greater connectivity between its different products, which will no doubt be highlighted at this year’s Drupa show.

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