Presstek posts profit and points to drupa enthusiasm

By David Ward, San Diego, Thursday 17 May 2012

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Digital offset printing equipment supplier Presstek managed to squeeze out $500,000 Q1 EBITDA, as cost cutting helped offset a 13.9% sales decline compared with the same period last year to $27 million.

The Greenwich, CT-headquartered company said service-related revenues for the quarter were flat, but consumable sales, including new equipment, fell by 15% compared to same period last year to $17.6 million due to the slow economy, especially in Europe, and reduced sales of the company’s legacy product lines.

During a conference call with analysts to discuss the results, Presstek CEO Stanley Freimuth focused largely on the interest in the company’s new 75DI digital offset press, noting that last month Presstek sold its first unit to a large North American packaging printer.

"The segment that we are most appealing to right now is the folding carton packaging segment," he said.

"And what’s happening in that segment — and in all packaging actually — is that run lengths are getting shorter and there are more versions of the package being demanded by the marketers behind the brand."

Freimuth explained that most large packaging producers are geared up for multi-million run lengths.

"When they have to do shorter run lengths, they find it very uneconomical to do it on the flexographic equipment that they have" he said.

"We have a six minute turnaround on the 75Di, so in six minutes you can run a whole different version of the package with different graphics and different data on it, up to 20,000 pieces. Many of these prospective customers have never bought an offset, but they like the workflow and the fact they can do this from a digital interface, so they are huge advantages as we see this demand for shorter runs."

Freimuth added that interest at drupa for the 75DI was very strong, adding the company had almost 200 demonstrations during the two-week show, including "a lot of packaging companies who had not otherwise planned to visit us. In general the activity level for us was way greater than we had anticipated."

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