The printing industry reported profits of 1.4% in 2010 compared to a loss of 1.4% in 2009 according to the recently completed 2011–2012 Printing Industries of America Ratio’s Survey. The sluggish economy and slowing print markets pulled down printers’ profitability in 2009, but improving economic conditions helped the print industry pick up steam and reverse the trends in 2010.
The average printer's before-tax profit on sales was 1.4% over this past year. This was an increase compared to 1.4% percent loss in the 2010 survey (2009 fiscal year-end numbers); it is still below the 3.0–3.4% range experienced from 1995–2001. This is the first increase in profits in the last three years; at this rate the industry earned approximately $2.1 billion in total profits in 2010.
Profit leaders--printers in the top 25% of profitability--saw profits increase significantly to 9.5% as compared to 7.0% in the prior year. This increase brings profit leaders almost to pre-recession profit levels. Prior to the recession profit leaders reported profits in the 10.1 to 9.7% range. For all printers, the average profit of 1.4% is slightly more than the rate earned in 2001 before falling during the last recession.
According to our 2011 survey results (2010 fiscal year-end numbers), materials accounted for the largest single cost category for the typical printer, approximately 35.2% of sales. Total materials expenses increased slightly in 2010 from their previous level of 35.0% in 2009. Paper alone consumed more than one-in-five sales dollars last year. Other major costs incurred by printers last year included factory payroll (24.9% of sales) down from 26.3% in 2009, factory expenses (18.0% of sales) down from 18.8% in 2009, and administrative and selling expenses (19.4% of sales) down from 19.9% in 2009.
Sales per employee for all printers increased to $147,436 up 7.4% from 2009 lows of $137,326. Profit leaders sales per employee rose at an impressive rate of 10.6% compared to 2009 to $160,873.
Additionally, sales per factory employee increased among all printers by more than $11,000 (or 10.6%) from 2009 figures and averaged $198,122 in 2010. For profit leaders, sales per factory employee increased by an even wider margin, growing from $202,147 in 2009 to $222,480 in 2010.
Printers use the Ratios reports to evaluate their performance against industry profit leaders. Specific reports are available for various firm profiles by size of firm, printing process, and print market segments.