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Banta Reports Record Revenue, Earnings Up 17%

Press release from the issuing company

MENASHA, WI . . . January 31, 2001 - Banta Corporation (NYSE:BN) today reported outstanding fourth quarter and full-year 2000 results, fueled by healthy print markets and the corporation's robust supply-chain management business. Business momentum remained strong for nearly all of 2000, with Banta's sales for the final three months of the year increasing 20 percent over a strong 1999 fourth quarter. For the full year, diluted earnings per share increased 17 percent and sales rose 16 percent over the prior year. "We made significant progress during 2000, achieving records for most financial measures, including sales, operating earnings, cash flow, net earnings and earnings per share," says Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Donald D. Belcher. "Our print operations maintained excellent facility utilization throughout the year and performed extremely well during periods of peak demand, continuing to increase operating margins. In addition, our supply-chain management sector achieved an outstanding year as revenues increased 57 percent over 1999 and operating earnings doubled. Within this sector, we continue to focus on higher value-added services for the computer hardware, software and communications networking markets. As a result, we achieved a 30 percent increase in our supply-chain sector operating margins, from 4.8 percent in 1999 to 6.2 percent in 2000." Full-year record diluted earnings per share were $2.35 compared with last year's $2.01, before the 1999 restructuring charge. Operating earnings for the year reached $115 million, an 11 percent increase over 1999's $103 million. Net earnings for 2000 were $58.7 million compared with last year's $54.5 million. Sales reached $1.49 billion versus last year's $1.28 billion. Diluted earnings per share for 2000's fourth quarter were 69 cents, 17 percent over the 59 cents reported for the same period last year. Earnings from operations were up 11 percent in the fourth quarter, reaching $32.3 million compared with the prior year's $29.0 million. Net earnings for 2000's fourth quarter were $17.0 million versus $15.5 million in 1999, a 9.5 percent increase. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) reached a record $190 million in 2000. "Our ability to generate strong cash flow allows us to invest in the latest technologies and additional capacity in advance of customer demand for new products and services," notes Belcher. "We also used our strong cash position in 2000 to enhance shareholder value by repurchasing 1.3 million shares of our common stock, investing $24 million. In addition to share repurchases, our cash flow helped fund $80 million in capital expenditures and an acquisition for our Book Group." "I am extremely proud of the extraordinary effort the employees in both our print and supply-chain businesses put forth to meet customer delivery schedules during what was an extremely busy year," says Belcher. "While questions remain concerning economic growth in 2001, all of our businesses are well positioned to maximize opportunities, especially in the educational market, which is less influenced by economic cycles. We have leadership positions in attractive niche markets, competitive differentiation that drives sales and market share growth, and a dual business platform that combines a consistent and predictable cash generating print sector with a high-growth supply-chain management business." The corporation projects 2001 total revenues will grow 8 percent to 10 percent compared with 2000, and diluted earnings per share should reach $2.53 to $2.58. For the first quarter of 2001, sales should grow 8 percent to 10 percent over the same period last year and diluted earnings per share are expected in a range of 40 cents to 42 cents, versus 39 cents for 2000's first quarter. Production at many of Banta's print facilities is reflecting a softening economy, however, management expects stronger business activity to develop for the final weeks of the first quarter.

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