Quad/Graphics tops the 2016 Wisconsin Ticker

After emerging from the Great Recession as a consolidator of the fragmented printing industry, Quad/Graphics Inc. is starting to see the payoff from all that addition and subtraction.

The Sussex company, long known as a printer but now also more involved in digital advertising and marketing, is growing earnings, generating cash flow, reducing debt and investing in its facilities, all while paying a dividend.

Wall Street seems to have noticed.

Quad/Graphics’ stock price almost tripled in 2016, to $26.88 per share from $9.30, putting it atop the Morningstar Wisconsin Ticker for the year. The Ticker tracks percentage changes in the stock price of the state’s publicly traded companies.

“We got through the very heavy lifting period of many years of integrating and consolidating a massive industry, and now we’re seeing the results,” Joel Quadracci, chief executive, said in an interview.

Taking a long view of the industry, Quad starting acquiring other printers about six years ago, but pared 36 plants along the way. As it brought in other companies, annual revenue went from $1.8 billion to about $4.6 billion, and its workforce grew to more than 20,000 from about 8,600.

While Quad now is one of the world’s largest printing companies, it also is evolving with the digital and marketing needs of today’s customers, Quadracci said. Customers are asking for help in deciding the balance between online and print marketing.

“We are a printer. However,  what our customers are asking us — and how they’re asking to participate — is feeling more like an agency as well,” Quadracci said.

Milwaukee investment professional John Collopy, who tracks Wisconsin stocks, said Quad has diversified.

“Printing, per se, isn’t a high-growth industry, so they’re broadening their wings,” said Collopy, director of research for Carl M. Hennig Inc.

In 2016, only eight of the 59 Wisconsin companies included in the Ticker didn’t see a price increase. For the year, the stock price of S & P 500 Index was up about 9.5%.

Locally based investment pros say how the stock market performs in 2017 may be influenced, at least in part, by the actions of the Trump administration.

“At the moment, it feels like walking a tightrope while being blindfolded as a lot depends on whether the Trump administration can make good on its corporate tax cut promises,” said Brian Jacobsen, chief portfolio strategist for Wells Fargo Funds Management in Menomonee Falls. “Consumer and business sentiment improved in the wake of the election, but it’s based on hopes of quick reforms. I think we’ll get some of those reforms, and we could see the S&P 500 trade between 2,100 and 2,650 during 2017. That’s a wide range, and the upside represents quite a bit of upside.”
more at:  http://www.jsonline.com/story/money/business/2017/01/14/quadgraphics-tops-2016-wisconsin-ticker/96543340/

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