Courier Records Net Income Gain Compared to Net Loss in Q2 2011April 19, 2012
“In keeping with these achievements, I am pleased to announce that our Board of Directors has approved not only our regular quarterly dividend but also a $10 million stock repurchase program. With our reduced cost structure, our expanding array of digital offerings and our typical pattern of seasonal sales growth, I look forward to a stronger second half of the year.”
Book manufacturing: trade rebound continues
Courier’s book manufacturing segment had second-quarter sales of $55.5 million, comparable to the same period last year. For fiscal 2012 to date, book manufacturing sales were $111.5 million, up 3 percent from fiscal 2011.
On a year-to-date basis, operating income was $7.5 million, up 20 percent from $6.2 million for the first six months of last year. Again excluding restructuring costs, gross profit for the second quarter was $9.1 million, or 16.5 percent of sales, vs. $8.9 million, or 16.1 percent of sales, last year.
Gross profit for the first half of fiscal 2012 was $21.6 million, or 19.4 percent of sales, compared to $20.3 million, or 18.7 percent of sales. This improvement in gross profit margins in a competitive pricing environment reflects a favorable sales mix, operating efficiencies enabled by recent technology investments, and the closing of a redundant one-color plant last March.
The book manufacturing segment focuses on three markets—education, religious and specialty trade. Sales to the education market were up 2 percent in the quarter and up 3 percent for the year to date, with the largest proportion of sales at the college and university levels.
Sales to the religious market were down 4 percent from fiscal 2011 in the second quarter, but up 1 percent for the first six months of the year, driven by 4 percent growth in sales to our largest religious customer.
Sales to the specialty trade market were up 8 percent from last year for both the second quarter and the first half of the fiscal year, reflecting increased four-color work, increased orders at Courier Digital Solutions, and a return to more traditional ordering patterns as the marketplace continues to assimilate the loss of Borders.
Faced with the market’s continuing shift from one- to four-color book production, in early April Courier moved some one-color work from Westford, MA, to its Kendallville, IN, plant, which had redundant one-color capacity. This consolidation resulted in the loss of 34 positions in Westford. The company expects the consolidation to provide annualized pre-tax savings of approximately $1 million.
“We continue to benefit from the cost savings achieved through last year’s closing of our one-color plant in Stoughton, MA,” said Conway. “With the recent reductions at our Westford facility, we have gained additional savings without compromising our ability to deliver for our customers. At the same time, Westford will continue to have an important role within our overall manufacturing operations. Equally important, we expect to find new opportunities for some of our former Westford employees at our nearby Courier Digital Solutions facility as it prepares for growing demand in the upcoming summer season.
“In other ways it was a typical second quarter given the seasonality of many of our markets. We continue to enjoy excellent relationships with our largest customers in the education and religious markets, backed by multi-year agreements that position us well for long-term growth. And we continue to offer a distinctive, state-of-the-art combination of digital and offset technologies to help all our customers reach their markets as effectively as possible.”
Publishing: adjusting to a post-Borders environment
Courier’s specialty publishing segment includes three businesses: Dover Publications, a niche publisher with thousands of titles in dozens of specialty trade markets; Creative Homeowner, which publishes books on home design, decorating, landscaping and gardening; and Research & Education Association (REA), a publisher of test preparation books and study guides.
Second-quarter revenues for the segment were $9.6 million, down 5 percent from $10.1 million in last year’s second quarter. The segment’s operating loss for the quarter was $1.1 million, compared to a loss of $2.0 million last year including a $750,000 bad-debt provision related to Borders.
For fiscal 2012 to date, segment sales were $19.1 million, versus $20.9 million for the first half of last year. The segment’s operating loss through six months was $3.0 million, vs. $2.8 million for the corresponding period last year.
Of the three Courier publishing businesses, REA alone was profitable during the quarter, though sales were down 5 percent as it continued to adjust to the absence of Borders, which had been one of its largest customers prior to the chain’s closing. At Dover, sales rose 5 percent, helped by a sharp increase in sales to online retailers, enabling it to reduce its quarterly loss from a year earlier. Meanwhile Creative Homeowner, despite a sales decline of 34 percent, also narrowed its quarterly loss as Courier Publishing continued to achieve cost savings by consolidating certain publishing functions.
Positive developments in the quarter included the continuing rollout of e-book titles, the March signing of an agreement with Amazon which will make these titles available to a significantly wider audience on the Kindle platform, and preparations for the spring launch of DoverPictura.com, Dover’s new online image store.
“Our publishing segment had another challenging quarter,” said Conway. “At the same time, the uptick in sales at Dover provides further support to our belief that consumers have finally begun to move on from the loss of Borders and seek out fresh content from other retailers, particularly online.
“Equally important, we are poised to reap the benefit of several exciting new product initiatives. This spring marks the AP test season debut of REA’s new All-Access program, which offers students a comprehensive combination of academic content and diagnostic tools for use anytime, anywhere. With the launch of DoverPictura.com, consumers everywhere will soon be able to obtain hundreds of thousands of unique historic and contemporary images in convenient digital form. And while they’re online, they can also obtain more than 3,000 Dover, REA and Creative Homeowner titles in e-book form through an expanded array of sales channels including Amazon, Apple and Google.”
“Our long-term strengths in technology and service continue to help us amidst a challenging economic environment,” said Conway. “As we expand the services we provide for our largest customers, we believe our efforts will be rewarded with increased volume. At the same time, our growing array of digital offerings is opening up new opportunities both in book manufacturing and in publishing. And we continue to seek additional ways to improve efficiency across our printing and publishing operations.
“For the full fiscal year we expect capital expenditures of between $8 million and $10 million, versus $16 million in fiscal 2011. We will also benefit from the consolidation of one-color printing capacity and other cost-reduction measures taken over the last year in both of our business segments. In addition, we expect to benefit from normal seasonal peaks in the education market, which traditionally drive stronger financial performance in the second half of our fiscal year.”
Courier Corp. prints, publishes and sells books. Headquartered in North Chelmsford, Massachusetts, Courier has two operating segments, full-service book manufacturing and specialty book publishing.