Banta 3Q Earnings Near 2000 High

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Banta Corp. nearly matched its record-setting earnings of last year's third quarter in results reported yesterday.

Diluted earnings per share for this year's third quarter totaled 75 cents, compared with 78 cents in the year-ago period. Net earnings were $18.7 million, down from the high of $19.2 million last year. Third-quarter sales reached $377 million, compared with $417 million last year for the printing, digital imaging services and supply-chain management company.

Sales fell 10 percent, but nearly half of the reduction resulted from declining paper prices, the Menasha, WI-based company said.

Operational highlights for the quarter include:

-- Direct marketing continues to benefit from growing demand for Banta's on-press personalization capabilities, with especially strong activity in the financial services sector.

-- Consumer catalogs saw volumes ahead of last year and improved manufacturing efficiencies, though a competitive pricing environment continued. Outlook is positive for the traditionally strong fourth quarter.

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