PUBLICATION PRINTING OUTLOOK –Challenging Issues

BY MARK SMITH

There may not be a one-for-one correlation between the business outlook for publishers and the fortunes of publication printers, but the link is obvious. Also, the tough business environment has marketing gurus and industry executives evangelizing the need for printers of all types to “really get to know their customers” in order to succeed.

On the whole, it has been a mixed year for the magazine publishing segment. According to Publishers Information Bureau (PIB) data through September, advertising revenues in 2002 have been running 1.5 percent above 2001 totals. Unfortunately, especially for publication printers, the year-to-date ad pages total was down 6.6 percent from the same period last year. By comparison, advertising revenues for all of 2001 decreased 4.9 percent and ad pages dropped a whopping 11.7 percent.

Top 10 — Publication Printers
  Company Segment
Sales
(millions)
Total
Sales
(millions)
1 Quebecor World
Montreal
$1,638 $6,300
2 R.R. Donnelley
Chicago
$1,112 $5,298
3 Quad/Graphics
Pewaukee, WI
$648 $1,800
4 Brown Printing
Waseca, MN
$307 $380
5 Cadmus Communications
Richmond, VA
$295 $447
6 Perry Judd’s
Waterloo, WI
$202 $321
7 Banta Corp.
Menasha, WI
$189 $1,457
8 Vertis Inc.
Baltimore
$185 $1,851
9 Publishers Printing/ Publishers Press
Shepherdsville, KY
$172 $172
10 The Sheridan Group
Hunt Valley, MD
$138 $212
Sales figures are based on above printers’
self-reported total and market segment breakdowns.

Both advertising revenues and page totals vary significantly for the 12 publication categories tracked by PIB. The one constant is a significant disparity between revenues and page total performance. While seven of the 12 categories posted ad revenue increases through September of this year, only two showed an increase in ad page count—Drugs & Remedies (9.4 percent) and Food & Food Products (5.8 percent). The titles hardest hit in terms of lost pages have been those covering Technology (-25.0 percent); Financial, Insurance & Real Estate (-13.8 percent); Apparel & Accessories (-13.3 percent); Public Transportation, Hotels & Resorts (-10.8 percent); and Retail (-9.6 percent).

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