The Bon-Ton Stores, Inc. today announced comparable store sales in the five weeks ended September 29, 2012 increased 0.6%. Total sales increased 0.7% to $288.9 million in the current year compared with $286.9 million in the prior year period.
Year-to-date comparable store sales decreased 0.1%. Year-to-date total sales decreased 0.2% to $1,705.3 million compared with $1,709.4 million in the same period last year.
Costco Wholesale Corporation today reported net sales of $9.31 billion for the month of September, the five weeks ended September 30, 2012, an increase of eight percent from $8.61 billion during the similar period last year. This year's five-week period includes week 53 of the Company's 53-week fiscal year 2012, and the first four weeks of its fiscal year 2013. Last year's five-week period includes the first five weeks of the Company's fiscal year 2012.
Limited Brands, Inc. reported a comparable store sales increase of 5 percent for the five weeks ended Sept. 29, 2012, compared to the five weeks ended Oct. 1, 2011. The company reported net sales of $773.6 million for the five weeks ended Sept. 29, 2012, compared to net sales of $818.6 million last year.
The company reported a comparable store sales increase of 7 percent for the 35 weeks ended Sept. 29, 2012, compared to the 35 weeks ended Oct. 1, 2011. The company reported net sales of $5.992 billion for the 35 weeks ended Sept. 29, 2012, compared to net sales of $6.196 billion last year.
September 2011 and 2011 year-to-date net sales included $96.5 million and $614.9 million attributable to the third party apparel sourcing business, which was sold in November 2011.
Macy’s, Inc. today reported total sales of $2.358 billion for the five weeks ended Sept. 29, 2012, an increase of 2.7 percent compared with total sales of $2.297 billion in the five weeks ended Oct. 1, 2011. On a same-store basis, Macy’s, Inc. sales were up 2.5 percent in September 2012 as compared to September 2011.
Same-store sales for August/September combined were up 3.6 percent in 2012 as compared to the same period in 2011.
Target Corporation today reported that its net retail sales for the five weeks ended September 29, 2012 were $6,075 million, an increase of 2.6 percent from $5,923 million for the five weeks ended October 1, 2011. On this same basis, September comparable-store sales increased 2.1 percent.
The company also announced today that beginning with its 2013 fiscal year it will no longer report monthly sales.
John Wiley & Sons, Inc., a global provider of content and workflow solutions in areas of scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly research; professional development; and education announced today that it has agreed to acquire Deltak.edu, LLC, a privately held Chicago-based leader in higher education and online learning services, for $220 million. The acquisition, which is expected to close by the end of October, will significantly accelerate Wiley’s digital learning strategy and diversify the company’s service offerings to include operational and academic solutions for higher education institutions. For the fiscal year ended September 2012, Deltak’s revenue was $54 million. Deltak will contribute solid growth to both Wiley’s Global Education business and Wiley overall.
Deltak is a high-growth company that works in close partnership with leading colleges and universities to develop and support fully online degree and certificate programs. The business, founded in 1997, provides technology platforms and services including market research validating program demand, instructional design, marketing, and student recruitment and retention services to leading national and regional colleges and universities throughout the United States to achieve strategic outcomes with online and hybrid program offerings. Today, Deltak supports more than 100 online programs.
A growing number of colleges and universities are looking to enter, expand, and succeed in the online education market. These same institutions often lack the required experience, expertise, and dedicated resources to move rapidly and successfully. Institutions choose to partner with Deltak for their proven model, extensive capabilities, deep experience in higher education, and cultural alignment. The partnership with Deltak allows institutions to achieve strategic objectives by launching online programs, increasing enrollments, and extending their brand with minimal risk and investment.
Tembec officially inaugurated today a new anaerobic treatment facility which will produce methane biogas and greatly reduce the use of fossil fuels at its high-yield pulp mill in Matane, Québec. Dignitaries from the surrounding region and members of Tembec’s senior management joined together with employees to inaugurate the new facility. This investment was announced January 10, 2011.
Funding for this investment was provided mainly by the Government of Canada with $19.7 million and the Government of Québec with $6.3 million. The overall project represents a total investment of $29 million - $26 million for the anaerobic facility and $3 million for the installation of the new electric boiler.
The project has two main components. The first is a new anaerobic treatment facility, which treats effluent and collects methane gas produced by the treatment process. This biogas will be used as fuel in the mill’s pulp-drying process, in place of the light oils currently used. The second component is the installation of a new electric boiler, which replaces a heavy oil fuelled boiler. These two initiatives together will reduce by approximately 90% the use of oil as fuel sources for the generation of the Matane mill’s various process steam and pulp drying requirements.
“This investment means better environmental, energy and economic performance for our Matane mill,” said James Lopez, President and Chief Executive Officer of Tembec. “By substantially reducing operating costs, this project will help assure the competitive position of our high-yield pulp on the global market.” “Tembec recognizes the support of the Government of Québec and the Government of Canada in the project, and we appreciate their confidence in helping us ensure the future of the mill,” added Mr. Lopez.
Bookmasters, a leading provider of editorial, design, book printing, eBook conversion and distribution services, is celebrating 40 years of service to the publishing community.
Founded in 1972 with a primary focus on offset book printing services, the company quickly expanded into composition, editorial and design-based services. By the mid-1980s, its portfolio of services was expanded to include distribution and book storage.
In the last 20 years, Bookmasters has completed the publishing service cycle with the addition of field sales, book marketing and publicity departments, a robust print-on-demand solution, and a comprehensive eBook program that takes content from creation to market.
“I've worked with Bookmasters for around 15 years,” said Thomas Bacher, director of the University of Akron Press. “As they've expanded their operations, they have retained their customer focus. Their team members are good listeners.”
“We have served publishers and authors for 40 years by providing quality publishing services and have proven to be an innovative and trustworthy publishing partner,” said David Wurster, CEO of Bookmasters. “We look forward to continue growing and meeting the challenges of an ever-changing publishing industry.”
Mondi Group and Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget (“SCA”) have sold their 100% interest in the jointly owned Aylesford Newsprint Holdings Limited to The Martland Holdings. The Martland Holdings is an independent private equity firm which focuses on acquiring non-core divisions of corporations and private companies worldwide.
Aylesford Newsprint, located in Kent, UK, has capacity to produce approximately 400 thousand tonnes of newsprint per annum from 100% recycled fibre. The Company supplies the major national newspapers groups in the UK and exports some of its production to mainland Europe.
The shares in Aylesford Newsprint were sold for a nominal consideration satisfied in cash at completion. Immediately prior to completion, the Company was re-capitalised, with the proceeds used to repay in full its interest bearing debt and leave net cash of GBP23 million. For the year ended 31 December 2011, Aylesford Newsprint generated negative EBITDA before special items of GBP4 million and net loss before special items of GBP16 million. Immediately before completion, Aylesford Newsprint pro forma gross assets amounted to approximately GBP99 million.
Mondi Group’s loss on disposal of its 50% interest in the Company will be approximately EUR71 million, accounted for as a non operating special item, and the estimated negative cash flow effect of this transaction will be approximately EUR17 million.
One hundred and eighty-one new magazines launched in the first nine months of 2012, according to MediaFinder.com, an online database of U.S. and Canadian publications owned by Oxbridge Communications, reflecting an optimism that appears to defy the tough print advertising environment.
The number of new launches compares to just 61 titles that closed over the same period.
However, the number of new launches is down slightly from 200 in the nine months of 2011, and the number of closures declined even more steeply in 2012 to date -- from 128 in the first nine months of 2011.
As in previous reports from MediaFinder.com, the new launches were dominated by categories such as regional interest, food, and luxury lifestyle titles, includingMud and Magnolias, Prevention Guide Top Chef Family Cookbook, Du Jour and M.
Some of the shuttered titles were digital-only publications, including several magazines created by Nomad Editions for the iPad.
On the B2B side, 25 new titles launched in the first nine months of 2012, compared to 12 B2B titles that closed.
Survey results released Tuesday by BDO USA revealed that 51% of retail finance chiefs foresee a 5.9% increase in online sales for full-year 2012.
That compares to 4.1% and 4.5% expected increases in same-store sales and total sales, respectively.
The BDO Retail Compass Survey of CFOs, which examined the opinions of 100 CFOs at leading retailers located throughout the country, found that CFO sentiments were conservative compared to last year, when the respondents predicted 11.9% online sales growth.
The group said it expects an increase of 4.6% in holiday-specific online sales.
The looming presidential election may be tempering expectations for a strong holiday season, suggested BDO USA. With the most important shopping period of the year coming on the heels of November’s election, retailers will be monitoring the race closely, as CFOs believe the election and unemployment are the two issues that will have the greatest impact on consumer confidence. In addition, the vast majority (78%) of CFOs say that they are concerned about potential tax reforms as a result of the election.
Retail web sales will increase 12% over last year’s holiday shopping season and reach between $92 and $96 billion, Shop.org, the digital division of the National Retail Federation trade group, says in its inaugural online holiday sales forecast released today. The forecast covers shopping during November and December.
Shop.org uses data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the U.S. Federal Reserve, U.S. Census, The Conference Board business research group, and NRF calculations for its online sales forecast. Data include personal income and spending, consumer credit, consumer confidence and previous monthly retail reports. Shop.org’s estimate takes into account kiosk sales in places such as retail stores and airports; home shopping network sales such as those placed via phone at such retailers as the Home Shopping Network; and direct-to-consumer sales via retailers such as Avon.
Online and offline holiday sales this year will increase 4.1% to $586.1 billion, the NRF says in its annual holiday spending report. NRF’s 2012 holiday spending growth forecast is higher than the 10-year average holiday sales increase of 3.5%, but lower than last year’s growth of 5.6%. The NRF uses factors including consumer credit, disposable personal income, and previous monthly retail sales releases for its holiday retail sales forecast.
Marketing services company Infogroup, whose services include list management, database marketing, and email marketing among others, announced today the sale of its OneSource division to platform company Cannondale Investments. OneSource provides information about businesses, industries, and executives worldwide.
The sale, for an undisclosed amount and effective as of October 1, comes nearly a year and a half after an internal restructure, overseen by the company's previous CEO Clare Hart, that positioned OneSource as one of Infogroup's three divisions: Infogroup for data and marketing services, ORC International for research and consulting practices, and OneSource as a provider of business information.
However, in July 2011, less than three months after that restructuring, Infogroup sold ORC International as “part of an ongoing effort to concentrate resources to the most important areas,” Hart said at the time.
Like the sale of ORC International, Infogroup touts the sale of OneSource as a means for streamlining its core business around developing and delivering data products and services to its clients. “This sale helps create strategic efficiencies for us as we continue in this direction,” said company chairman and CEO Michael Iccarino in a release. “We will continue to invest in capabilities, such as GoTime and the expansion of our social data solutions through our Market Intelligence acquisition earlier this year.”
North America's fourth largest producer of towel and tissue paper, Cascades Tissue Group, announced today the U.S. launch of the Cascades Antibacterial Paper Towel. Redefining the hand towel's role in enhancing hygiene, the Cascades Antibacterial Paper Towel minimizes hand contamination by killing 99.99 percent of harmful bacteria almost instantly unlike ordinary paper towels.
Since 80 percent of all infections are transmitted by hand, the lack of proper hand hygiene, in particular inadequate hand washing and drying practices, continues to be a consistent, if not deadly, problem. The distinctly green-colored Cascades Antibacterial Paper Towel can fit anywhere, doesn't require additional steps and compensates for people's imperfect hygiene habits without changing the way they wash or dry their hands. The towel releases the active ingredient Benzalkonium Chloride when in contact with wet hands. This active ingredient has been around since 1935 and is safely used in common products, including gel sanitizers, baby wipes and antiseptic skin solutions.
First cleared by Health Canada, Cascades' innovative paper product now complies with the regulation and policies of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It is expected to be a hit for the healthcare, foodservice, food processing and education industries, where businesses face a daily challenge: reduce bacterial contamination and transmission. As one example, the U.S. Department of Health estimates that at any given time about one in every 20 inpatients has an infection related to hospital care.
Oil fell to its lowest in four days after U.S. crude stockpiles climbed for a fourth week and a measure of China’s economy declined, signaling fuel demand may be faltering in the world’s biggest users of the commodity.
Futures fell as much as 0.9 percent in New York after the industry-funded American Petroleum Institute said yesterday inventories rose 462,000 barrels last week for the longest run of gains since May. An Energy Department report today may show supplies increased 1.5 million barrels, according to a Bloomberg News survey. China’s purchasing managers’ index for non- manufacturing industries expanded at the weakest pace since at least March 2011, data from the National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing showed.
“Demand is increasing slightly, slowly, whereas supply is increasing a little bit faster,” said Andy Sommer, a senior oil analyst at Axpo Trading AG in Dietikon, Switzerland, who predicts Brent crude will trade from $105 to $112 a barrel this month. “I don’t see big potential to the upside for oil. Of course there’s always risk from the political side, but from a fundamental point of view there’s more downward pressure.”
Crude for November delivery slid as much as 80 cents to $91.09 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest since Sept. 27, and was at $91.45 at 11:30 a.m. London time.
The advertising community took advantage of Advertising Week here to criticize Microsoft Corp. for its decision earlier this year to ship its new version of the Internet Explorer Web browser with “do not track” as the default setting.
The board of the Association of National Advertisers, which supports advertiser self-regulation in the use of data for targeted advertising, sent a letter to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and other company officers asserting that the company's decision “will undercut the effectiveness of our members' advertising and, as a result, drastically damage the online experience by reducing the Internet content and offerings that such advertising supports.”
An increase in economic confidence at the end of September pushed the Discover U.S. Spending Monitor up 2.7 points to 91.3 in September, reversing a 4-month decline. The Monitor is a 5-year-old daily poll tracking economic confidence and spending intentions of nearly 8,200 consumers throughout the month. The 91.3 reported in September’s Monitor is 14.3 points higher than what was reported a year ago.
The percent of consumers rating the U.S. economy as good or excellent increased 2 points to 13 percent from August, and those viewing it as poor remained at the same level as August at 56 percent. However, this is 10 points lower than the 66 percent of consumers who rated the economy as poor in September 2011.
The number of male respondents who rate the economy as poor in September declined 14 points year-over-year to 56 percent; female respondents with the same rating declined 8 points year-over-year to 56 percent.
Respondents expecting the economy to improve increased 4 percentage points from the prior month to 30 percent. This is also up year-over-year by 18 points.
Consumers with an income of greater than $75,000 had the highest percentage of any income level in September expecting the economy to improve, at 39 percent, versus 29 percent for those making between $40,000 and $75,000, and 25 percent for those making less than $40,000.
NewPage Corporation (NewPage) announced today that it has reached an agreement in principle with all of its major creditor groups concerning the terms of its chapter 11 plan. A brief summary of the agreement in principle has been posted to the KCC restructuring website, www.kccllc.net/NewPage.
"This is a very important step for NewPage, and assuming satisfaction of certain conditions, this agreement should allow us to emerge from chapter 11 in the near term," said George F. Martin, President and CEO of NewPage.
The agreement was reached as part of court ordered mediation conducted by the court-appointed mediator, Bankruptcy Judge Robert D. Drain. At the request of certain parties participating in the mediation, the mediator did not provide any of the term sheets proposed by the parties to the mediation (or any of their material terms) to certain other parties participating in the mediation. Rather, the mediator served as an intermediary, facilitating discussion among the parties and encouraging the parties to make concessions in an effort to reach agreement upon a consensual chapter 11 plan.
The $33-million sale of the Port Hawkesbury paper mill is complete, and the first paper is expected to roll off the line in the first few days of October. One year after the former NewPage facility in Nova Scotia shut down, the sale to Pacific West Commercial Corp. was completed on Sept. 28. Two hundred and fifty employees returned to work within days.
The mill is restarting under the name Port Hawkesbury Paper.
“In the past three days more than 150 trucks have arrived to supply the mill. We plan to have paper on the reel early next week,” said Ron Stern, owner of Pacific West Commercial.
“We have together embarked on the mission to make Port Hawkesbury Paper the highest quality and most competitive producer of supercalendered paper in North America while at the same time being a great place to work, environmentally responsible and a strong contributor to the province of Nova Scotia,” he continued.
The mill will operate a thermomechanical pulp line and the supercalendared paper line, but not the newsprint line.
Integrated media company Access Intelligence announced today the acquisition of several leading media brands serving the marketing industry, including Chief Marketer, Multichannel Merchant, Direct and PROMO. These brands, which lead their sectors with strong print, online and event businesses, will expand AI’s growing portfolio of properties serving this key market. This transaction bolsters the company’s leadership position in delivering high-quality multimedia content to marketing and media professionals. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
The acquired assets will become part of Access Intelligence’s Marketing and Media Group, which includes Event Marketer, EXPO, Best Events, Event Design, LeadsCon, DM Confidential, min, Folio, PR News, Cynopsis and CableFAX. Together, this group represents one of the largest and most robust marketing and media information offerings for business-to-business professionals.
Chief Marketer, www.chiefmarketer.com
, provides daily market intelligence on direct marketing, social media, lead generation, mobile and other measurable marketing strategies. Multichannel Merchant, www.multichannelmerchant.com
, covers cross-channel marketing techniques, including catalog, list sales, data mining and ecommerce. It produces the Operations Summit each spring, focusing on direct-to-customer operations and fulfillment.
“We’re excited to be rounding out our leadership position in advanced marketing with these top-drawer brands and joining their talented team with ours to supercharge our offerings,” said Don Pazour, President & CEO of Access Intelligence. “With rapid changes in customer buying habits and the exciting opportunities to reach buyers through new channels, Chief Marketer and Multichannel Merchant teaming up with brands such as Event Marketer and LeadsCon is a winning proposition for our audience and for our position as a media company.”
Avery Dennison Medical Solutions, a business unit of Avery Dennison Corporation, announced today that it has received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its new Chlorhexidine Gluconate (CHG) transparent film dressing, known as BeneHold™ CHG Transparent Film Dressing. In-vitro test data demonstrate the new dressing’s antimicrobial efficacy across a broad range of bacteria and yeast commonly found in catheter-related blood stream infections.
Tests show that the dressing is appropriate for applications where the spread of infection is a concern and moisture management is required, such as the securement of IV catheters. The patent-pending CHG adhesive formulation used on the dressing is transparent to allow visualization of the access site—a critical parameter for vascular access professionals, including nurses and infection-control specialists.
In-vitro test data also show that the BeneHold CHG Transparent Film Dressing demonstrates a significant reduction in bacteria and yeast from day 1 through day 7. Additionally, the dressing is non-cytotoxic, exhibiting a grade 0 profile (ISO 10993). High antimicrobial efficacy can often be associated with cytotoxic effects, commonly due to the concentration of the antimicrobial agent present in the product.
Wausau Paper said today that Paper segment earnings in both the third and fourth quarter will be impacted by lower profitability at its Brainerd, Minnesota, facility, as well as recent further weakening demand in its economically sensitive industrial product categories.
Henry C. Newell, president and chief executive officer, stated, “We made the choice to accelerate the conversion of the Brainerd mill to technical paper grades as part of our strategy to divest the print franchise. While the pace of the transition resulted in above-target cash generation, the compressed time period added complexity to the ability to position the additional capacity creating higher-than-expected margin pressure, increased product development costs and reduced operating efficiencies. Weakness in industrial end-use market demand has exacerbated the impact. With few signs of a general economic recovery, we now expect pressure on Paper segment profitability through year end.
“The Company’s Tissue segment continues to demonstrate strong operational performance, driven in part by above-market case shipment growth of 3 to 4 percent. Our expansion program, including product development activities, remains on schedule, with initial start-up of the new paper machine in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, expected in the fourth quarter. Additionally, our balance sheet is strong due to above-forecast cash generation and working capital reductions in our Paper segment."
Mr. Newell continued, “In the near-term, Paper segment profitability challenges will significantly affect second-half adjusted earnings. Consequently, we are reducing our full-year adjusted earnings guidance to $0.28 to $0.30 per share, and anticipate mid-single digit adjusted earnings per share in both the third and fourth quarters.” The Company’s previous guidance was for full-year adjusted net earnings in the $0.39 to $0.41 per share range versus prior-year adjusted net earnings of $0.33 per share.
Nine months into the year, one media trend seems clear: titles may come and go, but magazines made from paper-and-ink are sticking around.
Publishers launched 155 magazines in the first three quarters of 2012, among them Fairchild Publications' men's fashion quarterly M and northeast Mississippi's new lifestyle title Mud & Magnolias. That marked a slight improvement over the 151 print titles that came to life in the same period a year ago, according to numbers released Monday from MediaFinder.com, which calls itself the largest online database of U.S. and Canadian publications.
An even more promising statistic for the period: Only 55 magazines folded, compared to a loss of 119 titles a year ago.
"We're going to have print until people work out the monetization of digital," said Trish Hagood, president of MediaFinder.com. "It's like the new normal."
Lifestyle—particularly luxury lifestyle—has been a growth category this year, with high-end freebie DuJour joining M. (Later in October, Rodale will bring Best Life back to newsstands. The men's luxury title was folded in 2009.)
Among the titles that ceased publishing was Stuff Magazine. This summer it was folded into alternative weekly The Boston Phoenix, which was renamed The Phoenix.
MediaFinder.com also counted 26 digital-only "magazine" launches, including Atlantic Media's global business website Quartz.
USA Today is looking to foster creativity in print advertising with a new competition highlighting print’s versatility and potential. The 2012 USA Today Print Advertising Competition is soliciting entries from advertising agencies, marketers and nonprofits. They submit their most creative ideas for a chance to win $1 million worth of full-page print advertising in the iconic national newspaper.
Entries will be judged on the creativity and originality of the ad visual storytelling and clarity of writing, according to USA Today, which said the competition will be judged by industry execs, including Andrew Essex, CEO of Droga5; Chip Kidd, designer and writer at Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group; Sean McLaughlin, creative director at Wieden + Kennedy; Chuck Porter, chairman at Crispin Porter + Bogusky; Ty Montague, co-founder and co-CEO of the Co Collective; and Michael Wolff, the media columnist for USA Today.
Entries can be submitted beginning Oct. 8 and the contest will remain open through Nov. 26. A grand prize winner and two runners-up will be announced in January 2013.
Holmen Paper is starting work aiming to concentrate production at the mill in Hallstavik to two paper machines with strong positions in their respective product segments: MF Magazine and book paper. The result of this is that the mill’s oldest machine, PM 3, is being shut down. At the same time, there are plans to invest in energy efficiency measures that, together with the closure, will considerably reduce the mill’s future investment needs. These measures will strengthen the mills competitiveness.
“The restructuring programme will ensure that Hallsta Paper Mill continues to play an important role in the switch towards becoming a speciality paper company, a process that has been under way at Holmen Paper’s Swedish units for a long time. It will help improve our chances of growing in the areas of importance to us,” says Henrik Sjölund, head of Holmen Paper.
The aim is to close down PM 3 during the second half of 2013. The paper machine manufactures 140 000 tonnes of SC paper annually for a market with excessive overcapacity. Closure is assessed to lead to a reduction in the workforce of around 230.
EFI™, a world leader in customer-focused digital printing innovation, today announced that it has acquired Online Print Solutions ("OPS"), a leading innovator in the areas of web-to-print, dynamic publishing and cross-media marketing solutions. OPS brings a decade of experience developing and deploying applications developed specifically to manage the unique needs of corporate storefronts, retail sites and online design to variable data and cross-media solutions. Its customers include many commercial printers throughout North America, Europe and Asia. While financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, the transaction is not expected to be material to EFI's 2012 results.
"We are very pleased to bring OPS into our growing web-to-print customer community and combine our world-class offerings in the market," said Marc Olin, senior vice president and general manager of EFI's Productivity Software division. "With our track-record of providing the industry's largest and most comprehensive cloud offering, EFI has seen web-to-print expand and become a standard way of doing business around the world. We see great potential in continuing to expand our offerings in web-to-print and further leverage our unique ability to provide an integrated workflow with our MIS systems and our industry-leading Fiery® controllers."
OPS software will become part of EFI's Productivity Software portfolio. EFI intends to continue to offer both Digital StoreFront® and OPS products to the market, and in the near future, integrate key OPS features and technologies supporting cross-media marketing and variable data printing into the EFI Digital StoreFront platform, as well as with EFI MIS software. EFI also plans to integrate the OPS platform into its industry-leading Fiery digital front ends, so that OPS clients may enjoy seamless connectivity to the wide range of Xerox, Ricoh, Canon, Konica Minolta, and other Fiery driven printers available on the market today. In addition, EFI plans to combine the two platforms over the coming years so that OPS and Digital StoreFront users will have an easy migration to a platform incorporating the best of both technologies. EFI will provide this new platform to all clients with current maintenance contracts on either system at that time.
Crude traded near its highest close in a week after a measure of U.S. manufacturing beat estimates and before a report forecast to show shrinking fuel inventories in the world’s biggest oil consumer.
Futures were little changed in New York today after advancing for a third day. The Institute for Supply Management’s U.S. factory index increased to 51.5 in September yesterday, exceeding the median forecast of 49.7 in a Bloomberg News survey. Crude supplies in the U.S. probably gained last week, while gasoline and diesel stockpiles dropped, according to a survey of analysts.
“Better-than-expected U.S. data has enabled the market to find some support,” said Christopher Bellew, a senior broker at Jefferies Bache Ltd. in London, who predicts prices will remain near current levels this week. “It’s a hard call where the market moves from here, but given events in the Middle East and prospects for positive U.S. economic data, any surprises are likely to be to the upside.”
Crude for November delivery was at $92.84 a barrel, up 36 cents, in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange as of 11:43 a.m. London time.
ZenithOptimedia lowered its global ad spending forecast to 3.8% growth this year, down from a June forecast of 4.3% growth, citing uncertainty in the eurozone.
Next year, global ad spending will grow by 4.6%, according to the report. In North America, ad spending will be up 3.6% next year, ZenithOptimedia projected.
The fastest-growing ad category globally next year will be Internet advertising, which is expected to increase 15.1% over this year and make up about 20% of total ad spending, according to ZenithOptimedia.
In a separate report, Nielsen said global ad spending reached $139.0 billion in the second quarter, up 2.4% over the same period last year.
The highest growth came from emerging markets, including the Middle East and Africa (up 19.6%) and Latin America (up 4.9%).
In North America, ad spending was up 2.4% in the second quarter, according to Nielsen.
Arctic Paper Munkedals AB have today acquired 50 % of Kalltorp Kraft HB. Kalltorp Kraft HB is a water energy company running two water power stations in western Sweden with a total annual output of 5 – 5,5 GWh/year. At the same time Arctic Paper Munkedals is projecting an increase of the output at the current hydro power plant located close to the mill.
The acquisition of Kalltorp and expansion of the hydro power station at the mill in Munkedal - is in line with the earlier communicated strategy of Arctic Paper SA – to increase the independence of purchased energy by increasing the internal production, says Michal Jarczynski, CEO of Arctic Paper SA, and continues:
Arctic Paper has a strong focus on modern and environmental-friendly energy generation. Already today Arctic Paper Grycksbo runs a biofuel power plant, Arctic Paper Kostrzyn runs a cogeneration gas-fired power station with efficiency over 93%.
Arctic Paper Munkedals is since many years running their own hydro electric power station close to the mill with an annual capacity of 11 – 12 GWh. The company is now projecting an increase of the output of the existing water fall with a new power station with new turbines and generators. The aim is to increase the annual output with 10 GWh/year to a total output of approximately 22 GWh/year. The cost of the project is estimated to 70 MSEK. Permissions from Swedish environmental authorities is expected to be in place during November and the project is expected to be finished a year after permission is given.
M&A activity for b-to-b media jumped 118 percent in the first three quarters of this year compared to the same period last year, according to The Jordan, Edmiston Group Inc. The independent investment banking firm reports that b-to-b deals for the period totaled 24 transactions, up from 11 last year. Total deal value for the period skyrocketed to $235 million, a 526 percent increase over last year. Among the transactions in Q3 were Wicks Group’s acquisition of Northstar Travel Media from BV Investment Partners, PennWell’s acquisition of the Elsevier Public Safety Group and TheStreet’s acquisition of The Deal.
Overall, the media, information, marketing and technology sectors saw 946 transactions for the first three quarters of the year, up 49 percent. Deal value for the sectors totaled $49.4 billion, driven mostly by smaller transactions -- 91 percent of the deals were valued at less than $50 million, while 6 percent were valued at more than $100 million, including nine deals that topped $1 billion in value.
Transactions for the b-to-b online media and technology sector increased to 71 (up 31 percent). Deal value for this sector doubled to nearly $11.7 billion. Among the transactions for the sector were ALM’s acquisition of RivalEdge, Dice Holdings’ acquisition of Geeknet’s online assets and Carlyle’s $3.3 billion acquisition of Getty Images from Hellman & Friedman.
Adobe Systems Incorporated (NASDAQ:ADBE) today announced significant updates to Adobe® AdLens™, its cloud-based, media optimization technology. AdLens, the first integrated platform to manage and optimize search, display and social advertising as a unified campaign, now offers seamless data integration with Adobe SiteCatalyst®. Tapping into the industry leading analytics solution provides advertisers with a simple way of leveraging conversion metrics to make more strategic media decisions and deliver optimal return on investment (ROI). Additionally, AdLens delivers new integration with Adobe AudienceManager for targeted audience segmentation to ensure advertising campaigns reach the right people.
By incorporating SiteCatalyst into AdLens, data sets can be used for ad optimization, custom analysis and reporting in real-time. With simple deployment, SiteCatalyst customers can now achieve media optimization gains and get a complete view of how their digital ads are performing. This native integration allows SiteCatalyst customers to quickly deploy AdLens with minimal effort and no manual integration or cumbersome data feeds.
Building on its current Facebook Ads API integration with AdLens, Adobe, which has been designated a Strategic Preferred Marketing Developer (PMD), now has official access to the Facebook Exchange, which allows marketers to buy ads on Facebook via real-time bidding. The Facebook Exchange integration is a valuable extension of AdLens’ real-time bidding infrastructure. The Facebook Exchange enables marketers to reach more than 955 million1 people globally on Facebook, which allows brands to deliver the most relevant messages to a wide range of consumers.
For the second time in less than four months, Publicis Groupe’s ZenithOptimedia has downgraded its global ad spending estimate for 2012. The latest full-year projection: close to $502 billion worldwide, up 3.8%. That’s down from its June growth forecast of 4.3%.
On a positive note, the shop upgraded its forecast for U.S. spending to nearly $161 billion, an increase of 4.3%. In June it pegged U.S. growth at just 3.6%.
ZO cited further spending cuts in the Euro Zone in response to continuing economic weakness there as the reason for the latest global spending downgrade. “Advertisers are broadly continuing to invest, despite the global economic concerns and issues,” stated Steve King, ZO’s global CEO. But King stressed that “strong return on investment” continues to be top of mind.
King noted that the U.S. “continues to deliver solid growth” that when combined with growth in developing markets, partially offsets Euro Zone spending declines. Spending in that region is expected to shrink more than 3% this year, per ZO estimates.
While the decline hasn’t been quite as steep as in the newspaper industry, magazine publishers have shed a substantial number of jobs over the last decade, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, which provides quarterly estimates of the number of people employed by periodical publishers, among other industries.
According to the BLS, the total size of the magazine industry workforce shrank from 156,212 in March 2002 to 111,126 in March 2012, the most recent month for which data are available -- a 29% drop over 10 years.
In addition, the number of establishments involved in publishing periodicals has declined from a peak of 9,232 in the third quarter of 2007 to 8,003 in the first quarter of 2012, for a 13.3% drop in five years, also per BLS.
Employment statistics from individual publishers are broadly in line with these results, judging by figures from publicly traded companies, which may be used -- with caution -- as proxies for the industry overall.
FutureMark® Paper Group launched today as the umbrella group for two recycled paper producers previously operating as Manistique Papers and FutureMark Paper Company. Guided by an unwavering commitment to sustainability, FutureMark Paper Group is now the leading North American provider of responsibly made high-recycled paper for books, magazines, catalogs, retail inserts, business papers, commercial printing applications and packaging.
FutureMark Paper Group aligns the executive management, business development, marketing and operational functions of FutureMark Paper Company and Manistique Papers. FutureMark Paper Group’s uncoated recycled papers will be made at its FutureMark Manistique facility. The FutureMark Alsip facility will produce the group’s coated recycled papers. Industry veteran Steve Silver will serve as FutureMark Paper Group’s President and CEO, overseeing both manufacturing facilities.
“In addition to sharing a senior management team and board of advisors, our two recycled mills share a strong history of innovation,” says Silver. “Combining the unique production capabilities of these two mills creates a platform for faster growth and enables us to achieve operational synergies that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. We’re joining forces at a great time in the market to take advantage of the momentum behind environmental paper.”
FutureMark Paper Group is strategically aligning the talents of its Manistique and Alsip teams to accelerate product development, spark innovation and enhance the business value it delivers to customers.
Process innovation and product development – By cross-pollinating best practices in operations, predictive maintenance and new technology between the two mills, FutureMark Paper Group will accelerate development of high-quality products and lower the environmental impact of its manufacturing activities.
Sales and marketing integration – Sales and marketing resources are now realigned to better serve the group’s green customer base with a unified brand and complementary products.
Transportation optimization – The group is optimizing paper transportation routes between its two manufacturing facilities andtheir suppliers and customers to speed delivery and decrease its transportation footprint.
While FutureMark Paper Group’s Alsip and Manistique facilities will work closely in the marketplace to achieve synergies and bring new value to customers, each operation is financially and legally independent, owned by separate investment funds managed by The Watermill Group, a strategy-driven private investment firm.
Oil slipped from the highest close in a week in New York as manufacturing contracted unexpectedly in China, raising speculation that fuel demand may decline in the world’s second-biggest crude consumer.
Futures slid as much as 1 percent after capping the biggest quarterly gain since December on Sept. 28. China’s Purchasing Managers’ Index was 49.8 in September, the government said today. That compares with the median forecast of 50.1 in a Bloomberg survey. An index from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics showed an 11th contraction. Data released later today will probably show U.S. output shrank a fourth month.
“All indicators point towards a controlled and orderly landing of the Chinese economy,” said Michael Poulsen, an analyst at Global Risk Management in Middelfart, Denmark, who predicts Brent crude will average $112 a barrel this quarter. “On average, we see prices ending the year at roughly the same level as now, but there are some wild cards.”
Crude for November delivery fell as much as 93 cents to $91.26 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $91.97 at 10:33 a.m. London time.
American Greetings Corporation today announced its results for the second fiscal quarter ended August 24, 2012.
For the second quarter of fiscal 2013, the Company reported total revenue of $393.8 million, a pre-tax loss of $6.1 million and a net loss of $4.3 million or 13 cents per share (all per-share amounts assume dilution).
The Company announced, on June 7, 2012, the acquisition of assets of Clinton Cards, including approximately 400 stores and related overhead as well as the Clinton Cards and related brands. As a result of the acquisition, the Company recognized during the second quarter of fiscal 2013 a revenue increase of approximately $39.9 million from the operations of the Clintons retail stores, reflected in the Company's new Retail Operations segment. This revenue increase was offset partially by the revenue reduction of approximately $13.5 million from inter-segment sales eliminations, reflected in the Company's International Segment, resulting in a net increase in consolidated revenue of approximately $26.3 million in the quarter. The sales being eliminated would have been third party sales in the prior year quarter.
Also as a result of the acquisition, the Company incurred, during the second quarter, pre-tax transaction costs and fees of approximately $3.9 million (after-tax of approximately $2.4 million or 7 cents per share) and pre-tax costs of approximately $2.3 million (after-tax of approximately $1.4 million or 4 cents per share) associated with impairment of the acquired Clinton Cards senior secured debt. The Company also recognized a reduction in pre-tax income of approximately $7.4 million (after-tax of approximately $5.6 million or 16 cents per share) as a result of inter-segment profit eliminations. The Company recognized a loss of $5.1 million (after-tax of approximately $3.1 million or 9 cents per share) from the operation of its retail stores. The total consolidated net reduction in pre-tax income associated with the acquisition and operation of the Clintons retail stores was approximately $18.7 million (after-tax of approximately $12.4 million or 37 cents per share).
In addition, revenue was reduced by $4.4 million as a result of scan-based trading conversions that occurred during the current-year's second quarter. The impact of scan-based trading conversions on pre-tax income was $3.6 million (after-tax of approximately $2.2 million or 7 cents per share). Also included within these results was a pre-tax benefit of $3.2 million (after-tax of approximately $1.9 million or 6 cents per share) from a gain on the sale of a portion of a legacy minority investment.
For the second quarter of the prior fiscal year 2012, the Company reported total revenue of approximately $370.2 million, pre-tax income of approximately $25.0 million, and net income of approximately $14.5 million or 35 cents per share. Revenue was reduced by approximately $0.6 million as a result of scan-based trading conversions that occurred during the quarter. The impact of scan-based trading conversions on pre-tax income was approximately $0.7 million (after-tax of approximately $0.4 million or 1 cent per share). Included within these results was a pre-tax benefit from the sale of certain minor characters in our intellectual property portfolio of approximately $4.5 million (after-tax of approximately $2.8 million or 7 cents per share).
R. R. Donnelley & Sons Company today announced that it has been awarded a new multi-year multi-million dollar enterprise-wide print management agreement by Guideposts, a leading nonprofit organization whose products and services inspire, encourage and uplift. Its flagship magazine title, Guideposts, has a paid circulation of two million and it annually sells more than 5.7 million books direct to consumers and through retail channels.
Under the terms of the agreement RR Donnelley will provide comprehensive magazine, book, direct response, forms, labels and other production and print management services as well as premedia, book fulfillment and other logistics services.
"Millions of people regard Guideposts as a trusted partner," said Dave Teitler, Senior Vice President at Guideposts. "We look for the same spirit of collaboration in our supply chain and found that RR Donnelley's end-to-end solution offers exceptional value."
"We are very proud to have earned Guideposts' trust and to have the opportunity to serve them across the enterprise with comprehensive print management services," stated John Paloian, RR Donnelley's Chief Operating Officer. "Our unique production, service and print management offering allows us to optimize value for customers while also enabling them to take advantage of industry-leading innovations."
Private equity company Investcorp is putting b-to-b media company SourceMedia up for sale, according to a report in peHUB.
SourceMedia publishes American Banker, On Wall Street and The Bond Buyer, among several other print publications.
The report in peHUB, a website owned by Thomson Reuters that covers the M&A field, quoted a source as saying that SourceMedia's EBITDA has been falling and is now around $10 million. Another source was quoted as saying that the company will fetch around five-to-six-times EBITDA.
Investcorp acquired SourceMedia, known at the time as Thomson Media, for $350 million in 2004.
Since taking charge in 2010, SourceMedia CEO Doug Manoni has added several new groups at the company, including digital, marketing services, research and training, in an effort to balance digital-oriented revenue against the company's still-significant exposure to print advertising.
Walgreen Co. today announced earnings and sales results for the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2012 ended Aug. 31.
Net earnings determined in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) for the fiscal 2012 fourth quarter were $353 million or 39 cents per diluted share, compared with $792 million or 87 cents per diluted share in the year-ago quarter.
Adjusted fiscal 2012 fourth quarter net earnings were $553 million or 63 cents per diluted share, compared with adjusted net earnings of $599 million or 66 cents per diluted share in the year-ago quarter. This year’s adjusted fourth quarter results exclude the negative impacts of 9 cents per diluted share related to the company’s transaction with Alliance Boots GmbH, 10 cents per diluted share from the quarter’s LIFO provision and 5 cents per diluted share in acquisition-related amortization costs. The company intends to account for its 45 percent investment in Alliance Boots using the equity method of accounting on a one-month lag basis. Because the closing of this investment occurred within one month of the company’s fiscal year end, the results of operations of Alliance Boots GmbH are not reflected in the company’s reported net earnings for the fiscal quarter or year ended Aug. 31, 2012.
Last year’s adjusted fourth quarter results exclude an after-tax gain of 30 cents per diluted share associated with the company’s sale of its pharmacy benefits management business, Walgreens Health Initiatives, Inc. (WHI), and the negative impacts of 4 cents per diluted share from the quarter’s LIFO provision and 5 cents per diluted share in acquisition-related amortization costs.
Quad/Graphics, Inc., announced today that it has expanded and extended its agreement with Gannett Co., Inc., to print copies of USA WEEKEND, a Sunday magazine inserted into 700+ newspapers weekly. The new, longer-term multiyear agreement will include additional incremental print volume beginning in 2016, as well as additional freight, logistics and distribution services volume.
“USA WEEKEND has an impressive reach and impact with a circulation of more than 22 million copies,” said Joel Quadracci, Chairman, President & CEO. “Under this new agreement, Quad/Graphics will continue to print the major portion of those copies, using a new manufacturing plan that optimizes all the strengths of our industry-leading gravure printing network. We are picking up additional future volume and we look forward to a growing service relationship with Gannett.”
J. Austin Ryan, Senior Vice President of Operations for Gannett Publishing Services, said the new agreement with Quad/Graphics offers multiple improvements to the manufacturing and distribution model. “Quad configured a new and improved services platform that will provide significant savings in time and money for us,” Ryan said. “We appreciate Quad/Graphics partnering with us to improve this aspect of our business.”
Magazines’ digital advertising is paying off, according to an eMarketer report, which says they will lift overall magazine revenues in coming years, despite decreases on the print side. Magazines may finally be “over the hump” in their transition from print to digital publishing.
However, on the print side, the picture isn’t exactly cheery, as eMarketer predicts that total print ad revenues will decrease from $15.19 billion this year to $15.13 billion in 2013, $15.09 billion in 2014, and $15.05 billion in 2014. But digital ad revenues will more than offset these declines, rising from $3.14 billion in 2012 to $3.52 billion in 2013, $3.77 billion in 2014, and $3.96 billion in 2015.
Thanks to digital advertising’s growing contribution, total magazine ad revenues will increase from $18.3 billion in 2012 to $18.6 billion in 2013, $18.8 billion in 2014, and $19 billion in 2015, per the same eMarketer forecast. (These figures don’t include new circulation revenues from digital subscriptions, which are also growing fast.)
Looking at digital advertising’s proportional contribution to magazines’ bottom line, its share of total ad revenues will increase from 17% in 2012 to nearly 21% in 2015, while print ads’ share will shrink commensurately.
All the trend lines for newspaper advertising are pointing down, and the latest forecast from eMarketer does nothing to dispel this gloomy picture.
According to the research firm’s most recent report, total ad revenues for newspapers will decline from $22.5 billion in 2012 to $21.5 billion in 2013, $21 billion in 2014, $20.63 billion in 2015, and $20.4 billion in 2016, for a 9.5% drop over the next four years.
The drop is due to continuing declines in print advertising, which eMarketer sees falling steadily from $19.1 billion this year to $16.4 billion in 2016 -- a 14.7% drop.
Separately, newspapers’ digital ad revenues will continue to experience modest growth, but not enough to offset losses on the print side. Here, eMarketer sees total digital ad revenues edging up from $3.4 billion in 2012 to $4 billion in 2016, for a 17.6% increase in four years.
The forecast is yet another piece of bad news for an industry under siege since the middle of the last decade. According to the Newspaper Association of America, total newspaper ad revenues -- including print and digital -- plunged from $49 billion in 2006 to $24 billion in 2011, for a 51.5% decline in just five years.
Holmen’s paperboard mill in Iggesund is to make its operations more efficient, with employee numbers being cut from 900 to 800. The intention is for the cuts to be made through normal personnel turnover (retirement) over a two-year period.
“We are active in a market that is subject to fierce competition and that is under immense cost pressure. High-quality products and high productivity are our competitive weapons, but we also need to constantly review our costs,” says Björn Kvick, President of Iggesund Paperboard.
The cuts will be made through various initiatives such as reviewing the sheeting and wood chipping operations. SEK 2.3 billion has recently been invested at the mill in a new recovery boiler, laying the foundations for maintaining the company’s competitive edge in the future.
UBM, the $1.5 billion British targeted media company that traces its lineage back to Samuel Morse's Journal of Commerce, staged a further retreat from print offerings this week after having closed and sold several titles in recent years. According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, it is putting up several titles for sale at an asking price of around $400 million.
The company, which publishes close to a hundred publications serving the health, technology, and transportation industries, has experienced a decrease in print margins and, as a result, focuses on trade shows and conferences for revenues. It operates some 300 of them globally in diverse markets such as furniture, jewelry, hospitality, and even spying. Its Black Hat cyber-security show draws attendees who not only don't wear name tags, but often don't reveal what organizations they represent.
The company did not name any specific publications that might be for sale. Its titles include Property Week, Travel Trade Gazette, Music Week, and Farmers Guardian.
AAA’s Fuel Gage Report as of 9/28/12
National Unleaded Regular:
Current Average - $3.787/gallon
Month Ago Average - $3.804/gallon
Year Ago Average - $3.465/gallon
Highest Recorded Average - $4.114/gallon on 7/17/08
Current Average - $4.086/gallon
Month Ago Average - $4.063/gallon
Year Ago Average - $3.846/gallon
Highest Recorded Average - $4.845/gallon on 7/17/08
Current Exchange Rates as of 9/28/12
American Dollar to Canadian Dollar = 1.019566
American Dollar to Chinese Yuan = 0.159090
American Dollar to Euro = 1.292288
American Dollar to Japanese Yen = 0.012882
American Dollar to Mexican Peso = 0.077839
Oil climbed for a second day in New York and headed for the biggest quarterly gain this year before a report forecast to show personal spending rose in the U.S., signaling an economic recovery that may boost fuel demand.
Futures advanced as much as 0.9 percent after increasing 2.1 percent yesterday, the most in eight weeks. U.S. household purchases probably climbed 0.5 percent last month, up from 0.4 percent in July, according to a Bloomberg survey before Commerce Department data today. Oil has rebounded since closing below $90 a barrel for the first time in almost two months on Sept. 26. It surged yesterday as Spain pledged to cut its deficit to ease Europe’s debt crisis.
“Things are looking more positive with Spain, but we are not out of the woods yet,” said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank A/S in Copenhagen, who expects Brent crude to average $105 to $110 a barrel in the fourth quarter. “I think the rally we are seeing will run out of steam as the fundamental factors don’t stack up.”
Crude for November delivery gained as much as 86 cents to $92.71 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange and was at $92.49 at 10:34 a.m. London time.
After a year of legal wrangling, the $33-million sale of the former NewPage Port Hawkesbury paper mill to Vancouver-based Pacific West Commercial Corp. was officially sanctioned Thursday by the Nova Scotia Supreme Court.
"We're hopeful that everything is in place," George Kinsman, a spokesman for court-appointed monitor Ernst & Young, said outside the Halifax courtroom. "We are ready to go."
However, the sale wasn't expected to close until late Friday when the province, company officials and a battery of lawyers sign the closing documents in Halifax and Toronto.
As well, the Nova Scotia Utility Review Board has to sign off on an amended discount power rate agreement with Nova Scotia Power Inc., which was also expected by Friday.
"That's the last piece of prime document that people are waiting for," said Kinsman.
Given all of the procedural steps that have yet to fall into place, the court also granted approval to extend the sale process to Oct. 5 if there are any last-minute glitches.
Weyerhaeuser Company, a global leader in cellulose fiber technology and sustainable forestry, today announced the launch of a proprietary, patent-pending form of thermoplastic composite that uses sustainably sourced cellulose fiber as a reinforcement additive.
Called THRIVE™ composites, the product will initially be used in household goods and automotive parts. In addition, THRIVE can be used in a variety of composite plastic applications, including office furniture, kitchenware, small and large consumer appliances, and other industrial goods. THRIVE composites offer several advantages over materials reinforced with short glass fibers or natural fibers such as sisal, hemp and kenaf. The product is available in masterbatch form for custom compounders and ready-to-mold thermoplastic pellets for molders.
"THRIVE composites are economical and widely available, and they are low mass yet demonstrate excellent tensile strength and flexural properties," said Don Atkinson, vice president, marketing and new products for Weyerhaeuser's Cellulose Fibers business. "These composites can improve molding cycle times up to 40 percent. Products made with THRIVE require less energy to produce and can reduce wear and tear on processing equipment when compared with those containing abrasive short glass fibers. These substantial benefits create significant advantages for companies looking to reduce their carbon footprints while enhancing performance and productivity."
THRIVE composites are currently available as cellulose blended with polypropylene with both high and low melt flow indices. Because cellulose fibers are compatible with various "workhorse" polymers, Weyerhaeuser plans to expand the THRIVE line of products beyond polypropylene to a range of hydrocarbon and nonhydrocarbon polymers.
Discover Financial Services today reported net income of $627 million or $1.21 per diluted share for the third quarter of 2012, as compared to $649 million or $1.18 per share for the third quarter of 2011. The company’s return on equity was 28%. Strong year-over-year revenue growth and lower charge-offs were offset by lower loan loss reserve releases and increased legal expense due to accruals associated with the recently concluded Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regulatory matter.
Third Quarter Highlights
Total loans grew $5.1 billion, or 9%, from the prior year to $59.2 billion.
Credit card loans grew $1.9 billion, or 4%, to $48.1 billion and Discover card sales volume increased 4% from the prior year.
Credit card loan delinquencies and net charge-offs reached historic lows with a delinquency rate for loans over 30 days past due of 1.81% and a net charge-off rate of 2.43%.
Payment Services pretax income was up 31% from the prior year to $49 million. Transaction volume for the segment was $50.3 billion in the quarter, an increase of 13% from the prior year.
For the second time in two months, the U.S. Postal Service will not make a mandated payment to prefund retiree health benefits. Absent legislative action, the Postal Service is unable to make a scheduled $5.6 billion payment to the U.S. Treasury on Sept. 30. As was the case with the default of a similar $5.5 billion payment due August 1, customers can be confident in the continued regular operations of the Postal Service. We will continue to deliver the mail and pay our employees and suppliers. Postal Service retirees and employees will also continue to receive their health benefits. The health care for current retirees is paid from the Postal Service’s general operating budget and is not affected by the Postal Service’s inability to make the accelerated payments mandated by Congress as part of a 2006 law.
Comprehensive reform of the laws governing the Postal Service is urgently needed in order for the Postal Service to fully implement its five-year business plan and return to long-term financial stability. The Postal Service continues to encourage comprehensive legislative action in this Congress.