In the last issue of Ink World, I noted that in the North American Top 20 Report as well as The Pigment Report, the executives I spoke with felt the worst was behind them, and that there were some signs of improvement in both the economy in general and in their own business.
In this issue, there is more anecdotal evidence that the ink industry has seen some gains in the past nine months or so, as well as some statistics to back that up.
First, the anecdotal evidence. In both “The Resin Report,” beginning on page 25, as well as “The Additives Market,” which starts on page 34, key suppliers generally noted that the second half of 2009 was a marked improvement over the first half of that year. Further, in “The Asian Ink Market,” starting on page 22, ink industry executives from DIC Corporation, Toyo Ink Mfg. Co., Ltd. and Sakata INX also said that sales improved as the year progressed, most notably on the packaging ink side
The question, then is whether the numbers confirm the belief that 2009 was an improvement over 2008. At its annual convention held in April, the National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers (NAPIM) released its 2010 State of the Industry Report, which surveys leading North American ink manufacturers on their results throughout the year.
For the most part, the numbers were downbeat, and reflected the downturn on the publication and commercial side of the ink business. It is hard to say whether the overall decline was throughout the year, or mostly in the early part of 2009, as most ink manufacturers and suppliers suggest. However, on a positive note, what was particularly noteworthy was the jump in return on net assets (RONA) to 12.7 percent from 7.7 percent in 2008.
There is still plenty of reason for concern. According to the NAPIM report, margins remain miniscule, as the ink industry’s average earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) was a paltry 3.2 percent. In the resin and additives reports, raw material cost and supply matters are serious issues. However, if the ink industry is starting to see a recovery, it is welcome news indeed.
On page 8 of this issue, we feature our Online Exclusives page, where we note the online articles we have written for our website, www.inkworldmagazine.com. Most recently, we have written articles on Toyo Ink’s acquisition of Fluid Ink Technology, the flexo ink market and much more. As always, we welcome our readers to visit our site frequently.