Semper International reports increase in profitability after sluggish second quarter in its most recent print Industry Insight survey

Semper International, the leading placement firm for skilled help in the graphic arts and printing industry, reports that it observed an industry sales boost during the last half of the second quarter of 2013.

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 are not screened. To preserve confidentiality, individual company information is not part of the tabulation.

“Sales have picked up since the Fed announced this most recent round of quantitative easing (QE). With QE2 we saw a boost in sales followed by a downturn. We hope that the open-ended QE3 will prevent the stall that occurred with previous rounds of QE,” notes Dave Regan, CEO Semper International.

The most recent survey indicates positive outlook and improved sales:

• 68% of companies surveyed reported a profitable Q2. This represents a 16 point increase over first quarter, although a bit less than the number of companies reporting profits during and Q3 (72%) and Q4 (79%) 2012.

• 35% of survey respondents reported an increase in revenue over last quarter.

• Looking at just the two weeks before the survey, 34% of companies reported an increase in sales.

• 56% of companies expect sales to increase through the remainder of Q3, 2013—a more optimistic result than the survey has seen in a year—while 30% expect sales to stay the same. Last quarter 48% expected a sales increase and 40% expected sales to stay the same.

• The vast majority of respondents (68%) predicted that hiring levels would remain the same or increase, nearly the same as last quarter.

• Just over half of companies reported that healthcare is the labor cost component that increased the fastest last quarter. Healthcare has remained the fastest growing cost component for the last 14 quarters. Base pay, the next largest component, jumped up 7 points, to 20%, from last quarter.

• The greatest competitive threat to printers remains largely unchanged from last quarter. The current economy (52%) is the biggest threat, exceeding lower cost competitors (22%) and operating costs (7%).

• Not surprisingly, print buyers place the greatest pricing pressures on ink to substrate printing (53%) and digital printing (30%).

• Referrals (41%) continue to be the most popular way to find employees. Online ads (29%) are the second most popular source of finding new employees.

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