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Banta Reports Excellent Q4 2004 Results

Press release from the issuing company

MENASHA, Wis., Jan. 25 -- Banta Corporation today reported a strong finish to 2004, with significantly improved print performance boosting fourth quarter results. For the full year, the corporation reached all-time highs in both net earnings and diluted earnings per share, while 2004 revenue came in just shy of the corporation's record set in 2000. Banta's Print Sector reported strong gains in profitability for both the full year and fourth quarter, on increased revenue. The corporation's Supply-Chain Management Sector reported an excellent 2004, achieving records in both revenue and profitability. Banta Corporation's 2004 net earnings reached $68.0 million compared with $46.6 million the prior year, including 2003's special charges. Excluding the special charges, 2004 net earnings rose 13 percent over 2003's $60.1 million. 2004 diluted earnings per share increased to $2.67 compared with $1.81 in 2003, including special charges. Excluding the special charges, 2004 diluted EPS rose 14 percent over 2003's $2.34. Revenue in 2004 reached $1.52 billion, compared with the prior year's $1.42 billion. The special charges affecting 2003's pretax results, related primarily to restructuring activities, totaled $21.6 million ($13.5 million, or 53 cents per diluted share, after tax). There were no special charges in 2004. Fourth quarter net earnings were $19.6 million, compared with $12.2 million in 2003's fourth quarter, including special charges. Excluding the special charges, 2004 fourth quarter net earnings increased 13 percent over the prior year's $17.5 million. Diluted earnings per share for the fourth quarter reached 77 cents, compared with 47 cents the prior year, including special charges. Excluding the special charges, 2004 fourth quarter diluted EPS rose 15 percent over the 67 cents reported in the same period in 2003. Revenue in 2004's fourth quarter was $402 million compared with $394 million in 2003. Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Stephanie A. Streeter said the strong 2004 results were achieved through a combination of productivity improvements, spending and cost controls, and an encouraging rebound in the commercial print markets. "Our catalog and direct marketing print businesses experienced significant turnarounds from the prior year," notes Streeter. "The markets were stronger, boosting plant utilization, and our major productivity initiatives, which included last year's restructuring, drove costs down and profitability up." The primary elements of the 2003 restructuring were the closing of Banta's catalog plant in St. Paul, MN, and its supply-chain management facility in Dublin, Ireland. "Our Supply-Chain Management Sector turned in another record year, with continuing strong volumes from our existing customers, new customer wins, higher productivity and improved facility utilization," said Streeter. "We achieved an outstanding year-over-year revenue gain in 2004, and the fourth quarter was the second best quarter in the history of our Supply-Chain Management Sector. Our momentum continues in that important growth business." "I am very pleased with our achievements this past year," notes Streeter. "We delivered record profitability and positioned ourselves to reach even greater heights in the year ahead. We have accelerated our productivity efforts, tightened our focus on specific market segments, and prepared ourselves to capitalize on market opportunities in 2005, particularly in educational print, specialty magazines and supply-chain management." With a continued favorable economic climate, Banta management believes that 2005 revenue can grow in the range of 5 percent to 7 percent, compared with results in 2004. Diluted earnings per share, including the effect of a continued reduction in the corporation's effective annual tax rate to approximately 32 percent, are expected to grow from 2004's results of $2.67 at a rate of 12 percent to 20 percent, or to a range of $3.00 to $3.20. This estimate excludes the effects of expensing stock options required under Financial Accounting Standards Board Statement No.123 , "Share-Based Payment," beginning in the third quarter of 2005.