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Economics & Research Blog

US Commercial Printing Industry Profits Rise for Eight Quarters

US commercial printing industry profits were up in the third quarter of 2011,

By Dr. Joe Webb
Published: December 14, 2011

US commercial printing industry profits were up in the third quarter of 2011, marking the eighth consecutive quarter of positive results. Though the industry has been going through hard times in terms of sales, rising profits have been a sign of the industry's restructuring and the departure of its weakest establishments. For the last four quarters, inflation-adjusted profits were $3.96 billion, and finally exceeded the low level of 2005. These were the best four-quarter profits level since the four-quarter period ending in 2007, when profits were $4.3 billion, and inflation adjusted sales were $112 billion, about $27 billion more than the $85 billion that has been estimated for 2011. These profits have been hard won. The total industry losses from Q4-2008 to Q3-2009 were -$6 billion, and it is only in the last three quarters that the industry has recovered from that period. Many challenges are ahead for the industry in 2012 and beyond, and increasing profits while the industry restructures, may finally improve the inflation-lagging wages of the industry and reverse sub-par investor returns. The fact that profits have been increasing while volume has been decreasing may start to attract some very needed investment capital from outside the industry. The industry restructuring is a story that needs to be made better known. There is much more to be done, and there are many opportunities still before us. Data and charts can be accessed online.

Dr. Joe Webb is one of the graphic arts industry's best-known consultants, forecasters, and commentators. He is the director of WhatTheyThink's Economics and Research Center.



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