In the three months to 30 September sales at the group were up on the previous quarter’s €504m (£424m), but down 14.9% year-on-year at €593m. Half-year sales fell 9.9% to €1.09bn.

EBITDA (earning before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) in the quarter jumped to €33m from €13m.

The world’s largest press manufacturer is still losing almost €1m a week, but it more than halved its net losses at the half-year stage from €108m to €47m. It also reduced its net debt by €118m to €239m.

Heidelberg said the strong euro combined with weak currencies in the US, Japan, India and Brazil had hit sales to the tune of €42m in the first half, while the prior year was also boosted by Drupa sales.

The manufacturer shed a further 1,129 jobs in the period as part of its Focus 2012 restructuring initiative, and now has 13,616 employees worldwide.

It said the EBITDA improvement was the result of Focus 2012 actions, price increases, and “a gradual scaling back of low margin business.”

Heidelberg is pushing its workforce for more flexible working hours and stated that its operating break-even point “needs to be adjusted further in order to be better prepared for volatility in individual markets.”

This will involve additional exceptional restructuring costs this financial year.

Chief executive Gerold Linzbach said the results had “exceeded our expectations” and that Heidelberg had made “major progress toward achieving our target for the year of a net profit.”

It announced the results alongside news of a major strategic alliance with Fujifilm for inkjet printing.

Heidelberg shares rose by 12 cents to €2.10 in early trading.