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Banta Reports Strong Q3 Results: Sales up 8%

Press release from the issuing company

MENASHA, Wis., Oct. 26 -- Banta Corporation today reported strong results for 2004's third quarter and first nine months. Revenue for the quarter ended October 2, 2004, was $380 million, 8 percent above the $352 million reported in the same period last year. Net earnings for the three-month period were $19.1 million compared with 2003's third quarter net earnings of $16.0 million, which included restructuring charges. Excluding the restructuring charges, third quarter net earnings were 11 percent higher than the prior year's $17.2 million. Diluted earnings per share for the quarter increased 23 percent to 76 cents, compared with last year's 62 cents, including the restructuring charges. Excluding the charges, 2003's third quarter diluted earnings per share rose 13 percent over the prior year's 67 cents. "We are encouraged by our third quarter results," said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Stephanie A. Streeter. "Volume increased for both our print and supply-chain management businesses. In our Print Sector, momentum in direct marketing remains strong, our catalog turnaround efforts delivered significantly improved results, our publications division maintained its strong performance and our book division reported higher revenue despite pricing challenges. Our Supply-Chain Management Sector recorded another exceptional quarter, benefiting from productivity gains and strong volume from both existing and new customers." For the nine months ended October 2, 2004, revenue increased to $1.12 billion, 9 percent above the prior year's $1.02 billion. Net earnings increased 40 percent to $48.4 million ($1.89 per diluted share) compared with the prior year's $34.5 million ($1.34 per diluted share), including special charges. Excluding the charges, net earnings were 14 percent higher than the prior year's nine-month net earnings of $42.6 million ($1.66 per diluted share). "We are optimistic about business prospects for the remainder of this year and next year," says Streeter. "The solid economy is supporting an active direct mail and catalog environment, we're realizing our planned cost savings from last year's restructuring activities, and we are accelerating our productivity efforts, which should help increase Print Sector margins. Supporting next year's growth is an active schedule of states adopting new curriculum programs, which drives educational print activity and should produce additional opportunities for our book division. Expectations for our literature management business remain strong as we've realigned the business and expanded its capacity to provide print-related supply-chain solutions for our customers' marketing collateral and program enrollment materials. "In our Supply-Chain Management Sector, we're continuing to gain additional opportunities with our existing customers and aggressively pursuing expansion into new markets. We also have several productivity initiatives underway, which should help us maintain solid profitability in this attractive growth business." Management reconfirms its previous guidance for 2004 revenue and diluted earnings per share. Expectations are for 2004 revenue to grow at a rate in the mid-single digits over 2003, and diluted EPS to be in a range of $2.63 to $2.71.