The printing industry reported profits of 1.8% in 2011 compared to 1.4% in 2010 according to the recently completed 2012–2013 Printing Industries of America Ratios Survey. The sluggish economy and slowing print markets pulled down printers’ profitability in 2009 (–1.4%), but improving economic conditions helped the print industry pick up steam and reverse the trends in 2010 (1.4%) and continued into 2011 (1.8%).
The average printer’s before-tax profit on sales was 1.8% over this past year. This was an increase compared to 1.4% percent in the 2011 survey (2010 fiscal year-end numbers); it is still below the 3.0–3.4% range experienced from 1995 to 2001. This is the second increase in profits in the last three years; at this rate the industry earned approximately $1.5 billion in total profits in 2011, which is above the $1.2 billion profit from the prior year.
Profit leaders—printers in the top 25% of profitability—saw profits increase slightly to 9.6% as compared to 9.5% 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 10.1–9.7% range. For all printers, the average profit of 1.8% is slightly more than the rate earned in 2003, two years after the last recession.
According to our 2012 survey results (2011 fiscal year-end numbers), materials accounted for the largest single cost category for the typical printer—approximately 35.5% of sales. Total materials expenses increased slightly in 2011 from their previous level of 35.2% in 2010. Paper alone consumed more than one-in-five sales dollars last year. Other major costs incurred by printers last year included factory payroll at 24.8% of sales (down from 24.9% in 2010), factory expenses of 17.6% of sales (down from 18.0% in 2010), and administrative and selling expenses at 19.6% of sales (up from 19.4% in 2010).
Sales per employee for all printers increased to $149,499, up 1.4% from 2010 levels of $147,436. Profit leaders sales per employee declined at a rate of 2.5% compared to 2010 to $160,873.
Additionally, sales per factory employee increased among all printers by more than $5,000 (or 2.6%) from 2010 figures and averaged $203,234 in 2011. For profit leaders, sales per factory employee declined from $222,480 in 2010 to $211,266 in 2011.
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. Click here to view executive summaries of past Ratios volumes.