Archive for Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Hallmark delivers earnings growth

Greeting card division suffers sales slump

February 18, 2004

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Sales and profits increased last year at Kansas City, Mo.-based Hallmark Cards Inc. despite falling revenues in its greeting card division, which has major operations in Lawrence.

Hallmark said Tuesday it had consolidated revenues of $4.3 billion in 2003, up 2 percent from a year ago. The privately-owned company doesn't release earnings totals but said they were up 15 percent from a year ago.

"Through our businesses' combined efforts, we finished the year with positive revenue results in what continues to be a challenging retail environment," company president and chief executive Donald Hall Jr. said in a prepared statement.

But the growth didn't come from Hallmark's Personal Expressions division, which includes greeting card operations. There, revenue fell 1 percent from a year ago.

Company officials attributed part of the decline to the loss of contracts with the Albertsons grocery store and Osco Drug store chains.

The company's greeting card business posted a better-than-average holiday season, with fourth quarter sales up 8 percent from a year ago. Hall called the holiday season one of the "strongest in recent years."

Strong greeting card sales overseas and Hallmark's cable television and movie-making operations helped offset declines in Personal Expressions. Hallmark International and Hallmark Entertainment each posted revenue gains of 5 percent.

The company's Binney & Smith subsidiary, which manufactures Crayola products, posted sales gains of 3 percent.

In Lawrence, Hallmark operates a plant at 101 McDonald Drive. With about 900 employees, it is the city's second largest-private employer. The plant produces the Shoebox Greeting Card line, as well as a variety of ribbons, bows, invitations and stickers.

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