Hopes for Uninterrupted Recovery Dampened
According to the National Association of Printing Leadership (NAPL), hopes of continued progress raised by past months’ positive results proved premature as disappointing December indicators reflect the pattern that has been seen in the general economy.
Several NAPL printing business indicators fell in December, dampening any hopes that the progress registered in the past several months would continue uninterrupted. Business slowed for 31.4 percent of the NAPL Printing Business panel in December, with just 29.7 percent reporting a pickup in business. This contrasts significantly with September, when a hefty 47.2 percent of the panel reported increasing business, while only 19.4 percent reported a slowdown.
A similar reversal occurred for work-on-hand, which decreased for 34.1 percent of the NAPL panel in December and increased for 13.1 percent. In September, just a few months earlier, reports of rising work-on-hand had reached a two-year high of 28.2 percent, while reports of declining work-on-hand fell to 19.9 percent – a two-year low, according to NAPL. The economic analysis comes from NAPL’s Printing Economics Research Center (PERC), which produces research and publications sponsored by Heidelberg, Kennesaw, GA.
The NAPL Printing Business Index, the association’s most comprehensive measure of print activity, fell to 47.9 in December, from 49.7 a month earlier. December’s performance marks the farthest that the PBI has been below 50.0 – the point at which more printers report activity is slowing down than report activity is picking up – since last summer.
“It’s not that the industry isn’t making progress – it just hasn’t been able to sustain the progress for more than a couple of months,” says Andrew Paparozzi, NAPL vice president and chief economist. “We can say the same about the economy in general. Special factors, including 0 percent financing, accounted in large part for the brief periods of strength we’ve seen, such as when the GDP grew at a 5 percent annual rate during the first quarter of 2002 and at a 4 percent during the third quarter.
“It’s been frustratingly slow and erratic, but both the economy and print are healing,” Mr. Paparozzi said. “Barring a setback in our war on terrorism, we expect the healing to continue in 2003.”
Ohio, Northern Kentucky Printers Hope to Forget 2002, Look Ahead to 2003
Ohio and northern Kentucky printers would like to forget about 2002 but are looking ahead to 2003 with hopes of a better year, according to a recent survey by Printing Industry Association serving Northern Kentucky and Ohio (PIANKO).
The survey found that 67 percent of the printers who responded had sales revenue in 2002 that fell short of their expectations while only 14 percent met their sales expectations. Nineteen percent said 2002 exceeded their projections.
“Ohio and northern Kentucky printers faced an uphill battle in 2002, but they are optimistic about 2003,” said PIANKO president Anita Herington. “PIANKO’s board has challenged us to make our membership more profitable in 2003 and that’s just what we’ve set out to do.”
With 52 responding companies from Ohio and northern Kentucky, the PIANKO survey provides an interesting insight into the current state of the printing industry, the third largest manufacturing segment of the U.S. economy. Expectations were high for 2003, with 77 percent saying they thought 2003 would be a better year than 2002 and 16 percent believing it would be the same as last year. Seven percent said 2003 would be worse.
Of those surveyed, 53 percent said they’d like to forget about 2002, while 18 percent had an outstanding year and 29 percent thought it was a repeat of 2001. When asked what they would have done differently in 2002, 43 percent said they would have done more aggressive marketing, while 33 percent said they’d cut expenses and 19 percent said they would have done nothing. Four percent said they wouldn’t have invested in capital.
“This is a clear mandate from our members that they should have done more of what their customers should have done in 2002—more marketing,” Ms. Herington said. “PIANKO will be there in 2003 for its members with a beefed up education program to help our members better market themselves.”
Printing Industries Association, Inc. serving northern Kentucky and Ohio (PIANKO) serves about 600 commercial printing companies and suppliers to the industry in its service area. With headquarters in Westerville, OH, the association also operates offices in Broadview Heights and Cincinnati. PIANKO is an affiliate of the national Printing Industries of America/Graphic Arts Technical Foundation, the largest graphic arts association in the world.