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NAPL: Continued Industry Weakness Dampens Prospects For Robust Recovery

Press release from the issuing company

PARAMUS, N.J., May 2 , 2003 – The commercial printing industry remains weak, according to the latest economic indicators from the Printing Business Panel of the National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL). The disappointing performance indicates that the recovery expected later this year will be less robust than previously predicted, with sales expected to grow 2.5% at most in 2003. The economic analysis comes from NAPL's Printing Economic Research Center (PERC), which produces research and publications. Sales fell 0.3% in March for the NAPL Printing Business Panel, following declines of 2.0% in February and 3.4% in January. Year-to-date, Panel sales are down 1.9%. In April, prices fell for 45.5% of the printers surveyed, with only 10.2% reporting a price increase. Profitability fell in April for 49.5% of the survey group—more than double the 19.9% that reported a rise in profitability. This is due largely to costs that are rising more quickly than either prices or productivity. “Although sales losses are not nearly as deep as they were during the first quarter of 2002, when sales fell 8.0% overall and 10.4% in March alone, that's slight consolation for an industry that hasn't seen meaningful growth in nearly three years,” notes Andrew Paparozzi, NAPL vice president and chief economist.