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Deluxe Reports Improved Q1 Results; Raises Outlook

Friday, April 30, 2004

Press release from the issuing company

ST. PAUL, Minn., April 29 -- Deluxe Corporation, the nation's leading check printing company, reported first quarter diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.94 on net income of $47.7 million. Diluted earnings per share and net income for the first quarter in 2003 were $0.83 and $50.0 million, respectively. "We improved first quarter EPS significantly from the same period in 2003 as a result of share repurchase activity," said Lawrence J. Mosner, chairman and CEO of Deluxe Corporation. "Our operating income was relatively flat with last year, factoring out the incremental cost of expensing stock-based compensation." Earlier this year, the Company announced its decision to begin expensing all of its stock-based compensation in 2004. First Quarter Performance Deluxe's first quarter net income was $47.7 million, compared to $50.0 million during the same quarter in 2003. EPS was $.94 per diluted share compared to $.83 for the same period a year ago. EPS was positively affected $0.14 due to the net impact of shares outstanding compared to the first quarter of 2003, and negatively affected $0.02 due to expensing stock-based compensation. Revenue was $308.8 million in the first quarter, compared to $317.2 million during the same quarter a year ago. The decrease in revenue was due to a 1.8 percent decline in unit volume and a 0.9 percent decline in revenue per unit. Gross margin was 65.4 percent of revenue for the quarter, the same as in 2003. Selling, general and administrative expense (SG&A), as a percentage of revenue, was 38.9% compared to 38.7% in the first quarter of 2003. However, actual SG&A dollars declined $2.7 million from last year. The Company's cost management actions during the last two quarters, along with reduced discretionary spending, were partially offset by higher advertising costs and the impact of expensing all stock-based compensation. As a result, operating income was $81.8 million in the first quarter, compared to $84.7 million last year. Operating margin was 26.5 percent of revenue, compared to 26.7 percent last year. Interest expense increased to $5.2 million for the quarter, compared to $4.4 million in the same period a year ago due to higher debt levels related to share repurchase activity. Business Outlook As a result of the favorable first quarter, the Company adjusted its EPS guidance for the remainder of the year. It expects second quarter diluted EPS to be in the range of $0.80 to $0.83 per share, and approximately $3.55 per share for the full-year, up from the previously stated $3.50. The updated guidance excludes the impact of additional share repurchases subsequent to March 31, 2004. Second quarter and full-year EPS in 2003 were $0.80 and $3.49, respectively. "We anticipate cash from operating activities to be in excess of $225 million for 2004," Mosner said, "as we continue to manage costs and maximize revenue per check order." First Quarter Segment Performance Deluxe operates three business segments: Financial Services, which sells checks, related products and check merchandising services to financial institutions; Direct Checks, which sells checks and related products directly to consumers through direct mail and the Internet; and Business Services, which sells checks, forms and related products to small businesses and home offices through financial institution referrals, business alliances and via direct mail and the Internet. Financial Services' revenue was $166.8 million for the quarter, compared to $177.3 million in 2003. The decrease was the result of continued pricing pressure. Operating income for the quarter increased to $38.7 million, from $37.2 million in 2003. The Company's cost management actions during the last two quarters, along with reduced discretionary spending, more than offset the decline in revenue. Direct Checks' revenue was $77.1 million for the quarter, compared to $80.8 million in 2003. Operating income for the quarter decreased to $21.5 million, from $31.3 million in 2003. Both the revenue and operating income declines were the result of lower unit volume. Advertising costs for the quarter were higher than the previous year due to new product launches and higher customer acquisition costs. Both lower unit volume and the increase in advertising expense were partially offset by higher revenue per unit and productivity improvements. As part of its aggressive cost management strategy, and to help offset higher advertising costs and an ongoing softness in customer response rates, Deluxe announced that it will close its Anniston, Alabama facility, where more than 200 employees serve customers of the Designer Checks brand. The Company said it expects to transition Anniston's work to its Colorado Springs facility by the end of the year. Business Services' revenue was $64.9 million for the quarter, up from $59.1 million in 2003. Operating income for the quarter increased to $21.6 million, from $16.2 million in 2003. Revenue and operating income were favorably impacted by new business and increased revenue per unit. Share Repurchase Program The Company repurchased .5 million shares during the first quarter, bringing total repurchases to 1.9 million shares under the 10 million share repurchase authorization approved by its board of directors in August, 2003. At the end of March, Deluxe had 50 million shares outstanding.

 

 

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