Upturn Continues for Commercial Printers
Business picked up in September for 52.6 percent of the National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL) Printing Business Panel, the highest reading of the year and nearly triple the 18.4 for whom business slowed. The economic analysis comes from NAPL’s Printing Economic Research Center (PERC), which produces research and publications sponsored by Heidelberg, Kennesaw, GA.
The upturn in business for commercial printers that started last summer will strengthen with the economy over the next 12 months, according to Andrew Paparozzi, NAPL’s vice president and chief economist. He noted, however, that it’s yet to be seen when business will gain enough strength to restore the industry’s weakened pricing power and profits.
Among the NAPL indicators pointing to an upturn:
• For the second consecutive month, more panel members report work-on-hand is increasing (23.95 percent) than report it is decreasing (19.8 percent). That’s a significant difference from last spring, when reports of declining work-on-hand exceeded reports of rising work-on-hand by wide margins.
• Nearly 44 percent of NAPL’s survey group expect business to improve during the next six months, while just 7.7 percent expect business declines.
• The NAPL Printing Business Index (PBI), the Association’s broadest measure of print activity, rose to 55.3 in September. The PBI has now been above 50.0—the point at which more printers report activity is picking up than report activity is slowing down—for three consecutive months.
“These positive indicators should be tempered with a look at what’s not happening yet in our industry—namely, the restoration of pricing power and profitability,” said Mr. Paparozzi. “Last month, 47.2 percent of our panel reported that prices fell, while just 7.6 percent reported a rise in prices. No pricing power means no revenue growth, so sales continued to fall in August.”
The NAPL Printing Business Index, the association’s broadest measure of print activity, combines input from the association’s panel about work-on-hand, current business conditions, expected business conditions (confidence), hiring plans, profitability and other key indicators into a single measure of activity.
The NAPL Printing Business Panel is a representative group of more than 300 printers that the association surveys monthly on a range of key printing issues. Since the same companies are surveyed every time, data are strictly comparable from period to period.
For more information, contact NAPL, (201) 634-9600; fax: (201) 634-0324; web: www.napl.org.
Printing Industries of America Reports on Printing Industry Structure
According to a report by the Printing Industries of America (PIA), the population of printing plants in the U.S. has been undergoing a dramatic transformation over the past decade. This transformation involves both the changes in the total number of plants and in the size distribution of plants.
The total U.S. printing plants peaked in 1993 at 54,462. Since that year the total number of plants has declined every year, reaching 45,964 at the end of 2001. This marked a decline of 8,498 plants or 15.6 percent.
PIA reported that an even more dramatic change has taken place in the size distribution of printing plants. The decline in plants has occurred mostly in smaller plants, those with one to four and five to nine employees. From 1993-2001 the number of plants with less than five employees77 has declined from 25,190 to 15,890, a reduction of 37 percent. Plants with 509 employees declined from 13,571 in 1993 to 11,602, or 14.5 percent. The number of plants with 10 or more employees has grown over the same period with the most growth in larger plants. The number of plants with 10 to 19 employees remained stable (7,535 to 7,509). Plants with 20 to 49 employees grew from 4,732 to 6,035 (28 percent); plants with 50 to 99 employees increased 1,891 to 2,585 (37 percent); plants with 100-249 employees increased from 1,110 to 1,602 (44 percent). The largest size category, plants with 250 or more employees, grew from 433 to 741 (71 percent).