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Industry Tunes In to Economic Update Webinar, Dr. Joe Webb Reports on State of the Industry

Press release from the issuing company

April 1, 2004 -- In a Webinar hosted by WhatTheyThink.com, the printing industry’s leading source of news and information, Dr. Joe Webb, one of the industry's best-known consultants and a 25-year veteran of the graphic arts industries, shared his insight on the state of the industry for the first quarter of 2004, with a view toward the balance of the year. The Webinar, which was sponsored by EFI was well-attended by over 200 printing industry executives representing the print service provider, vendor, consultant and press communities. The audio of the Webinar and PDF of the presentation is available online: http://members.whattheythink.com/home/djw033104.cfm Among the topics covered by Dr. Webb were: - current economic conditions and trends - print business and related outlook - updated assessment of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats relative to the printing industry - what’s happening with print buyers and publishing market segments “Overall, the economy is looking better,” said Dr. Webb. “Much of the negative information about the economy is directly tied to the fact that this is an election year—the political “spin factor” is always exaggerated in years divisible by four.” While CEOs still remain wary about the extent of the economic recovery, Dr. Webb forecasts strong GDP growth of +4% for the second quarter of 2004. “One metric that is often overlooked when talking about employment data,” he said, “is the significant increase in the number of new businesses being formed and the dramatic increase in sole proprietor income. Many of these new businesses are in the service sector. For 20+ years, the importance of the ‘service economy’ has been discussed again and again, but it has taken until the 2002 Census to get this topic treated seriously. Later this year, the Census Bureau will be starting to release monthly service sector reports which should help balance this reporting.” Recovery in the printing industry, however, is not progressing as quickly as other sectors. In data released yesterday, February print shipments were down $-221mm compared to Feb 2003, and shipments in the first two months of the year were down -3.2% compared to last year. Comparatively, durable goods were up +2.5%, overall factory orders were up +0.3%, and these two data points have been up four out of last six months, with the biggest growth in computers (+26%), construction machinery (+32%) and textiles (+17%)/ Dr. Webb encouraged printers to “stay focused on the right things, and stay ahead of your customers, not your competitors,” pointing out the importance of addressing and driving change by creating a resilient and innovative organization. The presentation, including audio, can be accessed at no charge by visiting http://members.whattheythink.com/home/djw033104.cfm Dr. Webb will be presenting quarterly updates through the balance of the year, hosted by WhatTheyThink.com. He also provides commentary in his weekly WhatTheyThink columns, available to Premium Access members.