MENASHA, Wisc., April 26 -- Banta Corporation today reported record 2005 first quarter results from continuing operations, recording the highest first-quarter revenue in the corporation's history.
First quarter 2005 revenue from continuing operations, which excludes results from the healthcare business that was sold earlier this month, reached $386 million, an increase of 10 percent over the $350 million recorded in the first quarter of 2004. First quarter net earnings from continuing operations increased 7 percent to $13.7 million, from $12.8 million in the comparable period last year. Net earnings, including operating results from the discontinued operation and an after-tax gain of $1.3 million from a real estate sale, were $16.0 million compared with $14.1 million in the same period last year.
First quarter diluted earnings per share from continuing operations rose 10 percent, reaching 54 cents compared with 49 cents in 2004. Including the discontinued healthcare operation and the real estate sale, diluted earnings per share were 63 cents compared with 54 cents during the same period last year.
During the last month of the quarter, Banta repurchased 359,500 shares of its outstanding common stock for $15.7 million under a new $150 million share repurchase program announced February 14, 2005. The shares were purchased at an average price of $43.57.
"Our supply-chain management, consumer catalog and direct marketing print businesses continued to excel in the first quarter, reporting good revenue gains and strong earnings compared with last year's first quarter," said Banta Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Stephanie A. Streeter. "That performance helped offset the more modest results in the rest of our print sector and increases in corporate administrative costs. Although both our publications and book operations reported double-digit revenue increases during the quarter; business mix, increased sales and administrative costs, and some productivity issues negatively affected their profitability. In spite of a few challenges, we remain confident that we will achieve our growth objectives for 2005. Beginning the year with record revenue and net earnings demonstrates that we're making important progress toward our goals."
"Our outlook for the full year remains positive but, as previously indicated, we expect our operating earnings growth to be back-end loaded into the second half of the year," noted Streeter. "Our second quarter plans include productivity-enhancing projects that will generate one-time costs in the second quarter, but create long-term benefits beginning mid-year." During the second quarter, three presses will be out of service and undergoing rebuilds. Two are being relocated to operations needing additional capacity, and one is undergoing the most-extensive rebuild in Banta's history.
"As expected since the beginning of the year, those major projects, along with additional expenses related to our Literature Management Group formation and the corporatewide rollout of our productivity programs, may cause second quarter operating earnings from continuing operations to be below the comparable period in 2004," said Streeter. "However, beginning in the third quarter, the presses will be back in operation, other expenses should be winding down, and we expect a strong final six months of the year."
Banta management reaffirms its previous 2005 guidance, which is for revenue to be in a range of $1.5 billion to $1.55 billion, and diluted earnings per share from continuing operations to be in a range of $2.80 to $2.95. In addition to results from continuing operations, 2005's net results will also include earnings from operations of the discontinued healthcare business through April 12, and the gain from the sale of the real estate and the healthcare business.
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