COMMERCIAL PRINTING OUTLOOK -- Ambiguity is Certain
For 2003, Davis is projecting print markets to also grow at close to the industry's longer term rate of around 3 percent. "This will mean that printing shipments over the year should reach approximately $165 billion," he adds. The economist again cautions that any market outlook represents just a snapshot in time and is subject to any changes in conditions.
In addition, Davis notes that the sales outlook for individual print market segments is very mixed. "Faster growing sectors should expect sales increases of 3 to 31⁄2 percent, particularly direct marketing (direct mail and newspaper inserts) and books. Magazines/periodicals and catalog printing should grow by 21⁄2 to 3 percent, as advertising markets recover. General commercial and quick printing should grow in the 2 to 3 percent range, and directories by around 1 percent," he says.
Paparozzi has a similar, but perhaps more bearish, take on the market outlook. "For 2003, we're projecting growth in the printing industry of somewhere between 4.7 and 5.2 percent, not adjusted for inflation (or between 1.5 and 2.5 percent real growth)," he reports. "We expect the economy to avoid a double-dip recession and continue to gradually strengthen—especially in the second half of the year—as corporate profits slowly strengthen. NAPL's outlook is based on the consensus projection from the Blue Chip Economic Indicators, which forecasts GDP to grow by 3 percent (adjusted for inflation) in 2003."
The economist sounds two cautionary notes regarding the projections. "It's important to remember that those numbers are not quite as strong as one might think since they are being compared with very weak performance in 2002," he says.
"All the stock market has to do, for example, is rise about 800 points and it will be up 10 percent for the year, but it would still be 3,000 points below its historic high.