Monday, July 31, 2006


Is Heidelberg's Share Buyback Bad News? ... and other stuff....

Look, I understand that companies do stock buybacks, sometimes when their stock is cheap and they're trying to save it (after the stock market crash of 1987, for example). I also know that sometimes companies throw off so much cash they don't know what to do with it (Microsoft comes to mind). As a shareholder, I like buybacks... until you really think about it. Comapnies are supposed to be invested in because they are able to create more value than buying than rather passive financial instruments like bonds or money funds.

But why is Heidelberg doing a share buyback? They just bought back $190 million ($150 million euros) of their stock. Does this mean that they have no clue where they could use $150 million to improve their operations with smart investment and throw of more earnings in the long run? Is this a company out of ideas about how to invest in their graphic arts businesses? How about investing in Asia, where markets are growing more than Old Europe and North America? This is a very strange decision, and it implies that their operations either are running so well and have all the capital investment they need, and more, and they can't find a single reason to invest in them any more. Are just admitting that it's time to just be milking the operations and grabbing the cash while the getting is good? Gosh, for $150 million they could have bought a supplier that has a cool idea they could use in their business. They could hire more people and expand their operations. They could give workers bonuses. They could fund employee pension plans. There are many choices for them to use this money. The fact that their first choice for investment was not their own operation may be very telling. And they may not even realize that.

People who have digital video recorders... use more print! Shocking! Well, not really. People who have DVRs have higher incomes, so most everything flows from that. Why higher incomes? More college graduates in the household. This is not as big a deal demographically as they are making it, but it's still a reminder that cutting edge media users have very diverse media habits within their homes. Oh... I checked the Print Council's site (, and not and there's no mention of this very positive print story.

The Espresso Book Machine: on demand paperback books in bookstores.... I remember distinctly being at a meeting at a major printer discussing this concept in 1995/1996ish and a hush went over the room.... because they were already trying to do it and wondered how I might have found out about it... but it's a no-brainer concept. As usual, getting no-brainer concepts to actually work is a whole different matter. (Oh, I checked the... bah! what good is even mentioning it any more?)

It's always nice to see when a revitalized printing plant does well... (Nah, I won't say a word)

Sunday, July 23, 2006


All Kinds of Info-goodies

Online market research is now $1.3billion

Web site that has historical oil data

NY Times is shutting its Edison, NJ plant

Newspaper revenue shift includes more web advertising revenues

Concerns being expressed that another Internet bubble is in the making (nah!),1,4417429.story?coll=la-headlines-business

Want to see what high, out of control taxation does? It makes capital flee. Read this story about France, where it is actually possible for your taxes due to exceed your income!

Friday, July 14, 2006


More Media Mix Mayhem

Media buying is a far different job today

Good article in WSJ about the changes in media: "The Marketing Maze"

The Financial Times restructures to simultaneously deploy print and web from the same production platform

How technology is changing magazine production (a roundtable discussion)

New media revenues offsetting print losses for many publications

New media prices going up!...

B2B podcasts growing

What a surprise: small business is a heavy user of online purchasing

Thought-provoking opinion piece about the future role of advertising and agencies

Brief article about magazines and the Internet, and a link to a podcast interview with Folio: editor Tony Silber{231D14D9-79E6-4716-9B84-69023878AD62}&siteid=mktw&dist=nbc

The International Herald Tribune is testing a way of automatically generating podcasts, using automated readers.

Walgreens is using geographically targeted ads online for its "circulars"
The book The Long Tail has finally been published, and it's getting a lot of coverage. It's the concept that drives workflows like "no book ever has to be out of print."
The original article
The Wikipedia entry
US News article
USA Today article
Marketwatch article
The Long Tail blog

Monday, July 10, 2006


Sorry I Haven't Written Lately

Graphic Design USA recently conducted a survey, sponsored by MAN Roland, that extols the importance of print. While I have some different interpretations of the data, some of which I will write about at some time, I strongly recommend the reading of the report. An important thing to keep in mind: designers affect principally the sheetfed markets and short-run web business, so you can't use the data to project to the entire industry. But it does, as I've long been a proponent of, add to the understanding of why people print: watch what the creatives do and you get a good sense of where the business is headed. Of course, there is no mention of this survey anywhere on the site that supposedly promotes the industry... you know,, but don't go to, which is a different organization. :)

EDSF study says that e-documents don't necessarily cut down on printing. Note that EDSF is not focused on the commercial printing industry, but has a heavy emphasis on corporate documents. Their report would be quite different if they focused on commercial.... after all, we know that shipments of printing and raw paper shipments are down despite a growing economy and population. Nonetheless, an interesting report.

Bob Coen's Insiders Report on Advertising Expenditures

NY Times report about Conde Nast's use of text messaging in conjunction with ads...
The magazine, Lucky, will offer readers of its September issue a chance to send text messages from their mobile phones to buy merchandise from 18 marketers and retailers, which include Avon, Liz Claiborne, Estée Lauder, L'Oréal, Target and Unilever. The program, called "Live Buy It," uses a service from the PayPal unit of eBay known as PayPal Mobile Text2Buy.

I haven't blogged about energy prices in a while, but this article got me going,1,2323784.story?track=rss&ctrack=1&cset=true
-- It's about the record number of drivers for the 4th of July weekend, despite high gas prices, which as we know are not at historical highs at all.
Driving is a strange thing... you should probably compare it to population growth. So when population growth is about 1% a year, and driving will increase by +1.3% compared to last year, that's probably a big deal. Key paragraph:
``People are finding a way around the issue of gas prices,'' AAA Chief Executive Officer Robert Darbelnet said in a telephone interview from Washington. ``We see people expressing more interest in the budget hotels in contrast to the more pricy hotels,'' he said. ``The only times we see a dip in peoples' willingness to take a road trip is when the availability of gas is in question.''
Yes, economics works. People adjust consumption patterns based on their perceived income, and they make substitutions when needed. That's one of the blessings of living in a diverse, free enterprise economy. People actually have things to choose from. Companies are doing the same thing with the way that they manage energy prices, too. After all, most companies are run by people.

Office 2007 delayed !
Not worth changing?,+warns+analyst/2100-1012_3-6086693.html?
"all companies will be required to deploy converters to ensure that their users are able to interact with early adopters of Office 2007. "All of you will have to deploy converters later this year or early 2007," she told her audience of IT professionals. "

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