Heidelberg's first half pre-tax loss has narrowed significantly on the back of strong sales and lower costsfollowing its successful restructuring.

The world's largest press manufacturer recorded net sales of €1.2bn for the six months to 30 September, up 18% on the first six months of 2009, while its pre-tax loss of €106.1m was down 44% on last year's €188m H1 loss.

Sales were particularly strong in the second quarter, improving 27% versus the previous year to €633m and growing 12% versus the first quarter of 2010 (€563m).

"The continuing economic recovery made our customers more willing to invest in the first half-year, but developments varied greatly from region to region," said chief executive Bernhard Schreier. "While Asia, Latin America and Europe are all seeing growth, there is still no significant recovery in evidence on the key US market."

The biggest improvement came in Heidelberg's first half operating result, which improved to a €19.2m loss excluding special items, compared with a €139.3m loss last year.

Heidelberg's first half net result, an €88m loss, was adversely affected by significantly higher financing costs, which soared 79% to €87m, although the company stressed that it had reduced its financial burden following its recent capital raise.