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Graphics Grab Bag – goings on around the printing traps this week

Friday, 26 October 2018
By Patrick Howard

The publishing date of a magazine is always an occasion of heightened expectation, especially for the people who appear in its pages either as subjects or as advertisers. The arrival of the printed copy is an affirmation of print’s undeniable physical presence, real world solidity in a universe of ephemeral tweets and twitters.

The latest issue of Print21 is a cracker, even if I do say so myself. Packed full of good information, personality and news of the industry on both sides of the Tasman Sea, its arrival is a worthwhile occasion to brew a cuppa, close the office door and take a few minutes to enjoy being part of the huge world of printing.

Which is why it’s so frustrating when Australia Post, the sole monopoly provider fails to perform its part. Print Post is the publication service for magazines. Like everything else now there are two levels of service, Standard and Priority. Unfortunately it seems as though Australia Post takes the Standard service as an excuse to leave pallets of magazines sitting on the warehouse floor for as long as they feel like.

And that’s my whinge for the week.

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Speaking of postal services, I see the US Post wants to raise its mailing services product prices by approximately 2.5 percent from January next year. The new prices will include a five-cent increase in the price of a first-class mail stamp from 50 cents to 55 cents. That’s about half what it costs us to post a letter in Australia.

Blowing its on trumpet US Post adds, that … The Postal Service has some of the lowest letter mail postage rates in the industrialized world and also continues to offer a great value in shipping. Unlike some other shippers, the Postal Service does not add surcharges for fuel, residential delivery, or regular Saturday or holiday season delivery. It receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products, and services to fund its operations.

Christine Holgate, CEO of Australia Post.

The Postal Service made $1.4 billion profit and $522 million in ‘controllable income’ in the first quarter last year. The difference is that one figure includes workers pension scheme and the other doesn’t. The $1.4 billion number was in the primary earnings table provided by the USPS to the Postal Regulatory Commission, while the $522 million figure was included in the footnotes of the report. Either way, it proves there’s money to be made in postal services, even as ‘granny mail’ declines.

Australia Post under its new CEO, Christine Holgate, this year posts a full-year after tax profit of $134 million, up 41 per cent. This is despite an 11 per cent decline in letters volume that was offset by parcel growth up 10 per cent.

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The deal is going down at Xerox in the USA. Not only have the private investors repudiated the merger with Fujifilm they’ve now made good on their promise, or threat, to return 50 per cent of what they term ‘free cash flow’ to the shareholders. The company, which was on its knees only last year, has declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.25 per share on Xerox common stock as well as a quarterly cash dividend of $20 per share on the outstanding Xerox Series B Convertible Perpetual Preferred Stock. Under CEO John Visentin, it clocked up a 5.8 per cent fall in revenue to US2.4 billion. Earnings per share took a hit too but luckily the ‘free cash flow’ went up by $157 m to $251 m. Mind you in a footnote the report says … * Prior year cash flow compares adjusted to exclude incremental pension contribution of $500M and to include deferred proceeds and beneficial interest from sales of receivables within working capital. So really, who knows?

Finally Xerox is declaring financing debt at $3.4 billion, which includes leasing of equipment, as well as unfunded pension costs of $1.4 billion. So that’s all right then.

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Meanwhile, I understand the rift between Xerox and Fujifilm is so deep – the two are heading to court in the US to sort out a case that’s likely to last for generations – that personnel are not allowed to communicate with their counterparts across the Pacific. It’s slowly edging towards all out war with both companies threatening to sell directly in to the others territory.

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In North America, OKI Data has issued a warning that people are trying sell ‘clone printers’ into the market.  I hasten to add there are no reports of the same thing happening here.

The company warns that the ‘clones’ are not covered by warranties, not eligible for OKI service and will not receive firmware or driver updates. It seems the motive is that the counterfeiters are altering the machines in order to use ‘white toner.’ OKI says these companies are not “partners” and have no business relationship with us.

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Then there was the guy who turned 80 and the nursing home threw a party. Up walked a gorgeous woman and offered him some super sex as a birthday present.

He thought for a moment.

“I’ll take the soup,” he said.

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