Expected macroeconomic and industry conditions

The global economy continues to face the challenges of low growth and high inflation in 2024, with a slight slowdown expected.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects global gross domestic product to grow by 3.1% in 2024. This matches the previous year’s comparably weak figure. Although the IMF expressed greater optimism for 2024 at the beginning of the year than in autumn 2023, the developed economies are expected to experience a slight loss of momentum of 0.1 percentage points over the prior year. GDP is projected to increase by 0.9% in the Eurozone. With an increase of 0.5% (previous year: –0.3%), the German economy is likely to underperform again. In the emerging markets and developing countries, the pace of growth is expected to reach 4.1%, i.e. in line with the previous two years. India (6.5%), China (4.6%) and ASEAN (4.7%) should grow at a slightly slower rate than in 2023 but, as in the previous year, exhibit the greatest growth rates.

Downside risks for the forecast lie in geopolitical tensions, in particular the escalation of the Middle East conflict and the ongoing war in Ukraine, an unabated rise in core inflation as well as a slowdown in growth in China. On the other hand, China could also see a faster economic recovery with positive cross-border growth impulses. A stronger recovery is also expected if inflation subsides more quickly than expected and central banks ease interest rates more swiftly.

The VDMA economists expect a challenging year for mechanical engineering in Germany in 2024, with real production falling by 4%. However, this forecast is subject to a high degree of uncertainty as further economic trends hinge on many factors that are currently difficult to estimate. The global economy is still in a slump, and mechanical engineering is a late cyclist as a supplier of capital goods. There are preliminary signals that orders will bottom out soon. Thus, the ifo business climate barometer for mechanical engineering has recently stabilised, with the rate of decline in new orders slowing somewhat at the end of 2023. However, this initial evidence of base formation in foreign demand cannot yet be interpreted as a reversal of the trend. The burdens and challenges are essentially the same as at the beginning of 2023. Meanwhile, the war in the Middle East has added a further source of uncertainty.  

Source: VDMA, “Maschinenbaukonjunktur 2023/Ausblick 2024” of 12 February 2024.


The expected macroeconomic, political and industry-specific conditions in the markets addressed by the Koenig & Bauer Group provide the basis for the forecast for 2024 (1 January 2024 to 31 December 2024) and subsequent years. 

The forecasts made are based on the assumption that there will be no further setbacks or more severe restrictions compared to the current situation as a result of the war in Ukraine and the Middle East conflict, or an unabated rise in core inflation.

Outlook for 2024: operating EBIT margin and revenue stable at the previous year’s level

Koenig & Bauer continues to face a challenging macroeconomic environment in 2024. Even so, the Management Board expects the EBIT margin and revenue to remain stable at the previous year’s level. Accordingly, it projects operating earnings of between €25m and €40m and revenue of around €1.3bn. However, Group EBIT for 2024 will be burdened by up to €10m as a result of spending on drupa, the world’s largest trade fair for the printing and graphics industry, which will be taking place in Düsseldorf from the end of May until the beginning of June, resulting in Group EBIT of between €15m and €30m after this one-off effect.

The Special and Digital & Webfed segments should make a disproportionately large contribution to both EBIT and revenue. By contrast, the Sheetfed segment is expected to account for a disproportionately small proportion of earnings and revenue in the first half of 2024. In the sheetfed sector in particular, a wait-and-see attitude ahead of drupa could lead to purchasing restraint. 

Future dividend policy adopted with a payout ratio of 15–35%

In view of the earnings performance in 2023 and the persistently challenging global economic market environment, the Management Board and the Supervisory Board will be proposing at the Annual General Meeting that the net profit generated by the holding company Koenig & Bauer AG be retained and that a dividend be omitted for the 2023 financial year. However, as Koenig & Bauer attaches great importance to ensuring an appropriate participation of its shareholders in its success, a future dividend policy has been adopted which, subject to profitable business performance during the year, aims to distribute a dividend of 15 – 35% of consolidated earnings, with a minimum dividend of €0.3 per share.

Medium-term targets

Given the persistently muted economic situation, the company projects an EBIT margin of 6 – 7% in 2026 at the latest, accompanied by Group revenue of €1.5bn. Economic volatility and geopolitical uncertainties have no impact on the medium-term targets, as the company’s focus is on the packaging market, which is growing structurally and sustainably and is generally intact and resilient. In the medium term, it is looking for revenue of around €1.8bn and an EBIT margin of 8 –- 9%. A further medium-term objective is to reduce net working capital to a maximum of 25% of annual revenue.