Semper International’s Print Industry Insight Survey Reports Increase in Fourth Quarter Profitability in Spite of Reports of GDP Contraction

Semper International, the leading placement firm for skilled help in the graphic arts and printing industry, announces its print Industry Insight survey has seen an increase in reported profitability during the fourth quarter of 2012.

Since February 2003, Semper International has provided a quarterly survey offering estimates of trends in the printing and graphics industries. To prevent bias, survey questions — both qualitative and quantitative — are designed by Semper corporate partner Cvent. Survey participants include more than 300 small, medium and large printing companies; both clients and prospects of Semper International. Participants provide data on revenue and hiring as well as estimated outlooks on future trends. Data is requested from a random sample and is not screened. To preserve confidentiality, individual company information is not part of the tabulation.

“We're seeing the slowdown we see every January, but we have high hopes for a solid first quarter,” notes Dave Regan, CEO Semper International. “We're seeing a disconnect in responses this quarter. Profitability was up and there is an increase in plans to hire. On the other hand we're seeing a drop in companies expecting sales to increase. This round of quantitative easing plus the recent spike in the stock market fuel my optimism for this quarter.”

The most recent survey indicates mixed business trends:

• 79% of companies surveyed reported a profitable Q3. This represents a 7-point increase over last quarter.

• The number of companies reporting an increase in ‘recent’ sales (“in the last two weeks”) is down by three points. Compared to last quarter, there is almost no change in companies reporting a decrease in recent sales.

• 26% of companies expect sales to decrease through the remainder of Q1, 2013.

• The vast majority of respondents indicated that hiring levels would remain the same or increases. Just 5% of companies are planning to release employees. This is a decrease of 7 points from last quarter.

• Nearly 60% of companies (nearly 12 points higher from last quarter) reported that healthcare is the labor cost component that increased the fastest last quarter. This has consistently been the case every quarter for the past year. Overtime, the next largest component, decreased 5 points from last quarter—perhaps a reflection of less work.

• The greatest competitive threat to printers remains largely unchanged from last quarter. The current economy (60%) is by far the biggest threat, growing pressures from lower-cost competitors (13%) and costs of upgrading technology (14%).

• Print buyers place the greatest pricing pressure on ink to substrate printing (47%). Pricing pressure on bindery is easing, down two points from last quarter.

• Referrals (43%) continue to be the most popular way to find employees. Online ads (29%) rose in popularity this quarter.

• Not surprising, nearly all respondents reported that they experienced anxiety and stress from the economy. They credit exercise (79%) with helping them mitigate the stress.

To participate in future surveys, please email always@semperllc.com. More information is available at the Semper International website: http://www.semperllc.com/index.cfm?page=president

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