Print Revenue Expected To Rise

    ALEXANDRIA, VA. — Sales revenue for printers during the first quarter of this year should be about 6 percent higher than it was for the same quarter last year, according to the Printing Industries of America Inc. (PIA).

    But that figure isn’t likely to hold throughout the year.

    The trade association also reported that operating costs should stabilize this year — except for health benefits — and profits, which were rare last year, should return in a modest fashion this year.

    PIA forecasts an average overall growth in sales revenue of 3 percent for 2003, with seven of eight sectors making gains this year. The biggest increase in sales should come in direct marketing; books; and packaging, labels and wrappers. PIA predicts a gain of 3 percent to 3.5 percent for those sectors.

    The association sees sales rising by 2.5 percent to 3 percent for magazines and periodicals, and catalogs. Revenues for general commercial and quick printing should grow between 2 percent to 3 percent, and directories should gain from 1 percent to 2 percent.

    Only business forms should do worse this year compared to 2002. PIA projects revenue dropping for that sector from 5 percent to 6 percent.

    Another forecast from CAP Ventures, however, predicts a smaller rise in revenue for the industry this year — one that ranges from 2.5 percent to 3 percent. CAP Ventures is a consulting and research firm in Norwell, Mass., that serves the visual communications business.

    As for operating costs, PIA expects wages to rise from 3 percent to 4 percent. The cost for paper could go up by as much as 3 percent, but for some printers it may not increase at all. And film, ink and plate costs should remain steady this year.

    But PIA does predict that the cost of providing health care benefits for employees should cost from 10 percent to 15 percent more this year.

    Overall, PIA projects industry profits reaching $3.2 billion for the year.

    The average margin for each print firm should be 1 percent to 2 percent higher for 2003 than it was in 2002. PIA predicts the industry should hire 75,000 workers this year.

    As for print buyers, the Print Buyer Pulse Index released earlier this month showed print buyers spending 1.3 percent more this year than they did last year — when spending was down about 1 percent from 2001. Printing materials account for about 30 percent of an ad budget. CAP Ventures co-produced the Print Buyer Pulse Index.

    Standard & Poors reported that the advertising sector creates the largest demand for commercial printing, accounting for nearly 45 percent of the total demand. Wholesale traders and nonprofits are the industry’s second- and third-largest clients, respectively, with each accounting for slightly more than 9 percent of total demand.

    According to the Graphic Arts Information Network, printing is the nation’s third-largest manufacturing industry. Printing employs more than 1.3 million people in nearly 46,000 businesses across the county. These businesses sold more than $160 billion worth of products in 2001. Small and medium-sized companies dominate the industry, with most employing fewer than 20 workers.           

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