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NAPL: Continuing Downturn Erodes 2002 Sales Gains

Press release from the issuing company

PARAMUS, N.J., April 14, 2003 – Sales fell 2.6% in February for the Printing Business Panel of the National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL). The decline follows a 4.1% sales dip in January, the steepest decrease since last June. The performance more than negated the sales increased logged by the Panel in the last months of 2002, when sales rose 1.1% between September and December. The economic analysis comes from NAPL’s Printing Economics Research Center (PERC), which produces research and publications sponsored by Heidelberg, Kennesaw, Ga. Other indicators also pointed to continuing tough times. Prices fell in March for nearly half (48.5%) of the Printing Business Panel, the highest percentage of the year. Equally as troubling, only 9.7% reported increasing prices. Profitability fell for 47.3% of the Panel, greater than the 40.7% reporting decreased profitability in December, 2002, and nearly triple the 17.3% who reported an increase in profitability. Confidence is the lowest it’s been in 17 months, with just 25.7% of printers surveyed expecting business to improve during the six months ahead, and 22.1% expecting business to decline. “Concern about what’s ahead is growing,” says Andrew Paparozzi, NAPL vice president and chief economist. “It’s another setback in our struggle to recover from recession. Compounding the situation is the impact that the uncertainties of war are having on the economy. There’s one hopeful sign—we’re off to a better start than last year, when sales declined 6.7% through February 28. The decline for the same period of 2003 has been nearly half as steep, at 3.4%.” The NAPL Printing Business Index The NAPL Printing Business Index (PBI), the Association’s broadest measure of print activity, fell to 44.4 in March. The PBI has now been below the critical 50.0 mark—the point at which more printers report activity is slowing down than report activity is picking up—for five consecutive months.