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April Printer Confidence Index: Big Printers Indicate Participation in Recovery

Press release from the issuing company

April 22, 2002 - WhatTheyThink.com and CAP Ventures have released their monthly Printer Confidence Index. The data is compiled each month from printers throughout the United States. The goal of the index is to provide real-time analysis of PRINT DEMAND and CAPITAL SPENDING expectations. Although there is still a negative sentiment among print providers about the conditions in their local market, CAP Ventures observed a significant improvement in overall market sentiment. Key observations for April include: - Consistent percentage of companies (23.7%) cited improving market conditions - Print growth index improved for the third month in a row. The index (-0.28) is still negative, but has improved every month this year. - Only 15.1% of printers expect their print volume in April to be lower than it was in March. In fact, 43.4% of printers expect their April volume to be higher than their March volume. - Net expected increase of 2.1% growth for April over March. This increase is noticeably lower than the 4.9% cited last month (March over February). However, the figure supports sustained growth. - Continued positive 6-month outlook for local market and their business. PRINT DEMAND Most printers by size of company (revenues) cited improving local market conditions. Small printers (under $1 million in annual revenue) continue to be the most stable with about 25% citing improving conditions, 50% citing stable conditions and 25% citing declining conditions. Nearly 30% of large printers ($10 million+ in annual sales) cited improving conditions, although many (50%) very large printers ($20 million+) continue to cite declining market conditions. This group has been particularly hard hit by the recession and cost reductions sweeping through Corporate America. However, even for this group things appear to be easing. As a comparison, only 7.1% of printers with annual sales of $20 million or more cited improving conditions back in December. This month 26.2% of these large commercial printers cited improving conditions. CAPITAL SPENDING: The April outlook for 6-month capital purchase plans was up slightly for prepress and offset equipment. The outlook was down slightly for color copier/printers, high-speed digital color printers, high-speed digital black & white printers and print management software. The other product categories were flat. CAP Ventures believes the demand for capital equipment will be modest as printers defer decisions until signs emerge for sustained demand of print services. However, recent steady improvements in month-over-month print volume and market conditions suggest higher levels of capital equipment purchases may be near. The increase in percentage of companies purchasing equipment in March (38.3%) compared with other months (around 30.0%) may be a harbinger of improved market conditions for capital equipment. FREE ON DEMAND BONUS This month, as a special ON DEMAND feature, all visitors can view the charts, graphs, demographics and complete comparisons with previous months. The data can be accessed at www.whattheythink.com