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Press giants KBA and Heidelberg have both announced weak results for the year to date, but pointed to an improvement in incoming orders as a sign for optimism.

Heidelberg said it did not expect to make a profit in the current financial year, following the publication of its first quarter results last week in which it posted a $92million operating loss.

The German press manufacturer said that “due to the persisting difficulty underlying conditions” full-year sales would be below the already “very low level” of the previous 2008/09 financial year. Incoming orders stabilised slightly in the first quarter compared with recent months, providing an initial indication that the downturn is levelling out. We still need to wait and see how things develop,” said Bernard Schreier, chief executive of Heidelberg.

Meanwhile rival KBA said that first half sales across its sheetfed and web division fell by 31% to $667m with sheetfed sales down 39% to $279m, resulting in a pre-tax loss of $69m compared to a profit of $3.5m in the first half of last year. However, the company said pre-tax loss fell by two-thirds in the second quarter of the year and the company experienced a “jump” in orders for sheetfed presses.

President and chief executive Helge Hansen said that if sales and personnel costs were maintained, the group would make profit in Q4.