Courier Reports Growth in Book Manufacturing Segment
“With our debt level reduced by $3 million during the quarter to less than $19 million, we head into the spring season in a strong financial position—in recognition of which Courier’s Board of Directors once again declared a quarterly dividend of $.21 per share, marking the start of our nineteenth consecutive year of dividend payments,” Conway added.
Book manufacturing grows across all three markets
Courier’s book manufacturing segment had first-quarter sales of $56 million, up 6 percent from $53 million in last year’s first quarter. The segment’s operating income for the quarter was $4.2 million. Excluding severance and post-retirement benefit costs, the segment’s operating income was $5.1 million, up 34 percent from $3.8 million a year ago.
Gross profit in the segment was $12.5 million, or 22.3 percent of sales, up from $11.4 million, or 21.5 percent of sales, in last year’s first quarter—despite a competitive pricing environment, reflecting an improved 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, religion and specialty trade.
- Sales to the education market were up 3 percent in the quarter, helped by growing demand for customized college textbooks and increased sales of books for elementary and high schools.
- Sales to the religious market were up 9 percent from last year’s first quarter, with some of the boost due to the timing of orders from the company’s largest religious customer.
- Sales to the specialty trade market were up 9 percent from a year ago, reflecting increased four-color work, as well as an increase in orders at Courier Digital Solutions.
“Our book manufacturing segment performed well throughout the quarter,” noted Conway. “Courier Digital Solutions continued to reap the benefits of its pioneering capabilities for customized textbook production and the efficiency of its digital inkjet presses. We were also pleased to expand our already strong relationship with Pearson Education.