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Esko strengthens its business during 2006

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Press release from the issuing company

Gent (Belgium), April 2, 2007 - Esko, the leading global system integrator for packaging pre-production, reports a strong performance over 2006, its first complete year under Axcel ownership. Audited consolidated revenues for the full year amounted to 127.0 million euro, an increase of 9% over 2005. EBITDA for the full year ended at 13.6 million euro, a 74% improvement over 2005. Packaging revenues increased by 11% compared to the previous year, and sales of new packaging systems (excluding services) grew by 16%. Overall service revenue went up by 3% despite a declining contribution from maintenance of discontinued CtF and CtP equipment. "We are very pleased to see a continuation of our prior years' business growth", comments Carsten Knudsen, President and CEO. "The integrated products and services we offer to our customers are recognized for the value they create to their businesses. Our revenue growth is driven by the extension of our design and pre-production solutions portfolio, the expansion of our geographical presence - direct or through our distribution partners, and an increase of our market share in several key market segments. Combining this revenue development with a constant improvement of skills and efficiencies throughout our organization has allowed us to strengthen our profitability, thus providing us with the resources to further grow and develop Esko." Positive development in all sales regions and product lines Revenue growth rates in Europe, the Americas and Asia Pacific were all well above 10% year-over-year. The strongest advances were noted in Central Europe, the Baltic Region and Latin America. Sales in Japan were tempered by the uncertain local economic climate but still increased by 5%. The sales of new Esko software products in 2006 grew by 11% compared to 2005; this excludes the business from software updates and upgrades which is typically covered under full-service maintenance agreements. The flexo CtP and CAM table businesses were very successful in 2006, with year-over-year revenue increases of 34% and 19% respectively. Both product lines saw an absolute record number of machines being shipped to customers worldwide. Dedicated to constant development "Esko sees a healthy balance between the sales to existing and to new customers, and continues to develop its business in growth segments - converters, designers and brand owners - as well as in the more traditional tradeshop customer base", continues Knudsen. "This is only possible by applying the most innovative technologies in the most effective ways to deliver solutions that closely match current and emerging customer's needs. We are committed to continue doing so in the future: during 2006, Esko invested over 10.5 million euro in new product development, a 10% increase over 2005." During 2006, Esko introduced a wide range of new solutions, including the CDI 2120 and 4835 flexo CtP devices, the Kongsberg XE10 and i-XE10 sign and sample making tables, the Scope 3 collection of pre-production software tools, and a series of consultancy services. "We were also much honored to be selected by HP Indigo, Heidelberg Asia Pacific and Xerox Europe as their preferred industry partner to address the packaging market", adds Knudsen. "This again is an indication of the value Esko can deliver to packaging professionals around the world." Carrying on into 2007, Esko recently introduced the new CDI Spark 5080 flexo platesetter, and now announces Esko Software Suite 7, a suite of packaging design and pre-production software tools setting new benchmarks for features, productivity and third party software compatibility.




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