In its interim financial report for the three months to 30 June, the German press manufacturer reported group sales of €504m, 3% down on the €520m achieved during the same period last year, but never-the-less in line with expectations.

A Q1 operating loss of €2m, excluding special items (EBITDA), showed a €45m improvement on the €47m loss recorded at the same point last year.

The company cited cost savings and higher profit contributions on new equipment, for the improvement, as well as the impact of trade show expenditure on last year’s results.

Heidelberg chief executive Gerold Linzbach said: “The substantial increase in our operating result makes us confident that we will record a profit for the year as a whole.

“In order to achieve this, we are systematically pressing ahead with our strategic reorganisation so as to further improve our margins for new machine sales in the future and adapt our cost structures to the market situation on an ongoing basis,” he added.

Meanwhile, incoming orders for Q1 totalled €643m (2012: €890m) with last year’s figures bloated by Drupa. According to the interim report, a reluctance to invest in the EMEA region and South America, particularly Brazil, offset the positive impact of China Print in May.

Free cash flow at the end of June was “at break-even” compared to a negative figure of €-112m at the same point last year. Meanwhile, net debt remained stable at €258m, despite further restructuring payments of around €31m for Focus 2012.

The business continued to reduce its workforce across the quarter, cutting 546 positions to 13,669. The group contracted by a total of 1,200 in 2012/13 and is aiming for a headcount of fewer than 13,500 by mid-2014.

The company said that the results were in line with expectations and outlook for the year remained unchanged with the intention of achieving a net profit in 2013/14 for the first time since 2008/2009.