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Merrill Corp. Reports 48% Improvement in Q3: Legal Business Doing Well

Press release from the issuing company

ST. PAUL, Minn., Dec. 5 -- Merrill Corporation, a global diversified communications and document services provider, today announced an increase in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, adjusted for non-recurring and restructuring costs (adjusted EBITDA) for the fiscal quarter ended October 31, 2002 of 48 percent over the third quarter of last fiscal year.  Adjusted EBITDA of $11.7 million as compared to $7.9 million in the comparable fiscal quarter was achieved on revenue of $135.4 million, essentially unchanged from the same period of last fiscal year.  Earnings growth resulted from tight control of costs in the financial market-related businesses and profitable revenue growth in our diversified operations. "We are pleased with the improvement in our earnings, in particular, considering the difficult economic environment," said John Castro, CEO of Merrill Corporation.  "While depressed financial market activity and lower financial asset values continue to adversely affect revenue for our two largest business units, we're seeing exceptionally strong growth in our diversified business -- most notably document management services to the legal industry and marketing and communication services to the real estate industry. "This diversification of revenue streams is fundamental to the Company's strategy, and is obviously paying off.  Additionally, we have continued to successfully manage costs without sacrificing our high standards with regard to customer service." For the nine months ended October 31, 2002, adjusted EBITDA was $53.9 million, an increase of 7 percent from the prior fiscal year on revenue of $457 million, down 5 percent from the same period of the last fiscal year. Adjusted EBITDA for the 12-month period ended October 31, 2002 was $66.4 million. Net income for the nine months ended October 31, 2002 was $3.6 million compared to a net loss of $5.5 million for the same period last year.