A rocky market, stagnating profits and declining capital investment rates tempered by optimism in hiring and stronger recent sales
Boston, MA – This week, Semper International, the leading placement firm for skilled talent in the printing, pre-media and marketing industries, reported some positive economic trends coming into the second quarter of 2016, though a slow start and continued signs of economic instability temper that optimism.
Trending positive, corporate profitability, recent sales and hiring all rose this quarter. Despite these strong metrics, overall sales outlooks for the second quarter shifted below the .500 mark and capital investment rates dropped to less than 1/3 of the industry, reflecting more pessimism throughout. Further, corporate profits held steady at 71% of the industry for the third quarter in a row, a slight decline from highs over 80% a year ago.
Since February 2003, Semper International has provided a quarterly survey offering estimates of trends in the printing and graphics industries. Survey participants include a cross section of large, mid-size and small commercial printers, advertising agencies and media companies; both clients and prospects of Semper International. Participants provide data on revenue and hiring as well as estimated outlooks on future trends. Data is requested from a random sample and are not screened. To preserve confidentiality, individual company information is not part of the tabulation.
“At the turn of the year, we sat at the crux of an economic transition with slow sales and slightly depressed profits. This quarter’s data saw these same trends prove out until March, where economic life finally showed signs of a warming,” explains Semper CEO and Report author David Regan, “Despite this good news, companies predicted sales outlooks in the next quarter will be slower than usual. This reflects more pessimism in the industry than the economic data indicates – understandable given the grueling nature of the past economic cycles and the recent GDP data. There is still some reason for optimism, our data finds that companies have been busier in the last two weeks and overall profitability had stabilized, albeit at a lower level than the highs of 2015.”
Additional insights revealed in the Semper insight report include:
- Companies reporting their sales increased over the past two weeks rose slightly to 30% of all respondents, and just over half of companies indicated that sales held steady in the past two weeks.
- Industry margins also rose, with firms netting margins of 20% or more doubled to sit at 10% of all companies taking our survey
- Hiring rose 20% in the past quarter. 36% of respondents indicated they will invest in new talent soon
- However, staff productivity continues to be the primary concern among managers for the second straight quarter, indicating managers are concerned over economic outlooks
- At the same time, diversification rates have dropped for the 12th month in a row – this time to just over 44% reporting they will expand into new segments this quarter.
Coming up: Semper will open its next survey one week early – on June 28th – with the aim of having results out and published by July 18th. To participate in the next survey, and get the insights a week before the public, go to Resources.SemperLLC.com the last week of June or email [email protected]
More information is available at the Semper International website: http://resources.semperllc.com/quarterly-survey/2016-q2/