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NAPL: Hopes for Uninterrupted Recovery Dampened

Press release from the issuing company

Paramus, N.J., Feb. 3, 2003 – Several NAPL printing business indicators fell in December, dampening any hopes that the progress registered in the past several months would continue uninterrupted. Business slowed for 31.4% of the NAPL Printing Business panel in December, with just 29.7% reporting a pickup in business. This contrasts significantly with September, when a hefty 47.2% of the Panel reported increasing business, while only 19.4% reported a slowdown. A similar reversal occurred for work-on-hand, which decreased for 34.1% of the NAPL Panel in December and increased for 13.1%. In September, just a few months earlier, reports of rising work-on-hand had reached a two-year high of 28.2%, while reports of declining work-on-hand fell to 19.9%--a two-year low. The economic analysis comes from NAPL’s Printing Economics Research Center (PERC), which produces research and publications sponsored by Heidelberg, Kennesaw, Ga. The NAPL Printing Business Index£, the Association’s most comprehensive measure of print activity, fell to 47.9 in December, from 49.7 a month earlier. December’s performance marks the farthest that the PBI£ has been below 50.0—the point at which more printers report activity is slowing down than report activity is picking up—since last summer. “It’s not that the industry isn’t making progress—it just hasn’t been able to sustain the progress for more than a couple of months,” says Andrew Paparozzi, NAPL vice president and chief economist. “We can say the same about the economy in general. Special factors, including 0% financing—accounted in large part for the brief periods of strength we’ve seen, such as when the GDP grew at a 5% annual rate during the first quarter of 2002 and at 4% during the third quarter. It’s been frustratingly slow and erratic, but both the economy and print are healing. Barring a setback in our war on terrorism, we expect the healing to continue in 2003.”