Strong sales of colour presses have boosted Océ as it reported bullish results for the first quarter of this year, despite the group warning that further cost cutting would be required to meet the “turbulent economic conditions”.

The Dutch manufacturer posted a €15.3m ($20.3m) profit for the three months to the end of February, defying market expectations of a loss of around €8m.

Chief executive Rokus van Iperen described the performance as “encouraging” and said: “Océ has strengthened its competitive position in key segments of business services, display graphics, colour continuous-feed printing and cut-sheet production printing.”

Total revenues for the quarter fell 6.3% to €658m – a fall mitigated by an increase in sales of colour machines led by its flagship JetStream range, which now accounts for 27% of the group’s revenue.

Iperen said the company had made “good progress” in the group’s cost reduction programme. “We are weathering the storm to a certain extent,” he added.

Océ is expecting to save around €80m this year, following the loss of 1,253 employees across the group in the last 12 months. It announced last week that a further 250 positions were to be cut at its manufacturing facility in Poing, Germany.

“We have not reached the most difficult marketing conditions yet,” van Iperen said. “We are continuing to implement our cost-reduction programme. We have to anticipate a further decline of the economy and our market.”

Van Iperen added that customers were delaying investment decisions and facing difficulties getting credit. He claimed the coming year would be a more difficult one than last year. Océ’s shares rose more than 40% on the Euronext Amsterdam to just over €3.50 following the results. Shares were trading at around €10 a year ago.

Océ factfile

Profit €15.3m ($19.8m) for three months to the end of February
Total revenues down 6.3% to €658m
Expected savings of €80m in 2009
Job cuts 250 job cuts announced at the group’s Poing manufacturing facility in Germany