Money Talk: Industry Trends, Part 1, On the Rebound

Given the three year deceleration in print industry profits from 2007 to 2009, one might be tempted to question how much the recent recession has impacted the industry’s future. As evidenced by the recent Printing Industries of America Ratio Survey, however, there is positive news, and brighter days are ahead.

The 2010 fiscal year data showed the first full recovery year for the industry. Better yet, the 2011 figures indicate print market profits continuing to accelerate for the second year in a row. With fears of a “double dip recession” now behind us, this article begins a two-part series tracing the industry rebound as well as its future growth areas.

Let’s begin with a comparative view of profit trends for the last 11 years:

Participants in the survey revealed a 2011 profit of 1.8 percent on sales before taxes—an increase of 0.4 percent from the previous year’s average of 1.4 percent.

While still short of the peak profit year of 2006, the 2011 results (profit of 1.8 percent) are in line with the 11 year industry average (1.8 percent), and were achieved in two years after the recession.

Those printers in the top 25 percent of profitability, saw their profits rise only slightly (0.1 percent) from the previous year to 9.6 percent. The Profit Leaders’ performance for the last two years (9.6 and 9.5 percent) is higher than its average over the last 11 years of 9.1 percent.

The industry showed approximately $1.5 billion in total profits in 2011, surpassing the 2010 figures by $0.3 billion. The number of printers reporting losses was down, with 33 percent of survey participants reporting a loss—down from the 38 and 55 percent who reported losses in 2010 and 2009, respectively.

The numbers don’t lie—the industry has taken a hit, but it is coming back into its own and continues to be a viable and vital part of the US manufacturing scene.

In Part 2 of this article, we will further explore what the Ratio Survey’s data tells us about profitability as it relates to company size, product segments, and productivity trends.


Stuart Margolis is a CPA and partner at MargolisBecker LLC. Find information at