Money Talk: How Do You Stack Up After the Great Recession?

Printing Industries of America has released its annual financial benchmarks for the print industry. The Ratios present the results of the 2012 fiscal year financial information of graphic arts companies and are chronologically 2½ to 3½ years after the end of the Great Recession (June 2009). The recession resulted in three years of consecutive decreases in profits (2007-09) for the industry. The 2010 fiscal year was the first full recovery year, with print markets continuing to pick up steam in 2011, resulting in a profit of 1.8 percent on sales before taxes.

As reported in the 2013 Ratios Survey (the 2012 fiscal year end results), the participating printing companies produced a profit of 2.7 percent on sales before taxes, generating even higher profits for the third year in a row. This is an increase of 0.9 percent from last year’s average of 1.8 percent, a huge 50 percent increase in the previous year’s profits.

The calculated trailing 12 year average profit for all printers is 1.8 percent, indicating this year’s profit is well above the average. Albeit, the 2007-2009 recession and the previous recovery period from the 2000-2001 recession contribute significantly to a low 12 year industry profitability average. Industry profitability hovered above three percent, when averaged for the prior 91 years in which these surveys have been compiled.


Still Cautious

Business leaders are apprehensive over government and Federal Reserve Board actions that, when compounded by an ever-changing print environment, leave them as worried as ever. This year’s report should alleviate some of those concerns. The industry showed approximately $2.2 billion in total profits over the course of the 2012 fiscal year, which is above the $1.5 billion profit from the prior year.

The number of printers who reported losses in the current year was 29 percent of printers participating in the Ratio Study, down from the 33, 38, and 55 percent who reported losses in 2011, 2010, and 2009, respectively.

The industry’s profit leaders, those printers in the top 25 percent of profitability, saw their profits rise only slightly over the year, increasing 0.3 percent from the previous year to 9.9 percent. The profit leaders’ performance for the last two years (9.9 and 9.6 percent) is above average. Over the last 12 years, the average performance for profit leaders was 9.2 percent.


Follow the Numbers

The Ratio Study also provides benchmarks based on company size, product specialty, manufacturing process, and by geographic region. It analyzes industry average and high profit leaders’ averages on the report on operations-income statement, the balance sheet, interrelated ratios between the income statement and the balance sheet, as well as return on investment.

For a nominal fee, firms can receive a customized report that shows its annual numbers vs. the profit leaders and all firms, by sales volume, product produced, and primary manufacturing process. An online benchmarking system called F.R.E.D. is also available so that various metrics can be compared.

To check out the Ratio Study, the customized reports, or the online benchmarking system (F.R.E.D.) visit or


Stuart Margolis, CPA and partner at MargolisBecker LLC, provides information that helps firms operate profitably. The company is the purveyor of the industry’s “Cash is King” and “Value-Added Principles of Management”, and compiles the annual Printing Industries of America Ratios, the industry’s premier financial benchmarking tool. More information at