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The Target Report Annual Review – August 2023 TTM M&A Activity

Navigating the Soft Landing - The Target Report Annual Review

Navigating the Soft Landing

As readers of The Target Report know, we view the printing, packaging, and related industries from the perspective of M&A transactional activity. Over the past twelve years, we have chronicled, logged, and commented on the robust merger and acquisition activity in the print-centric business segments. At the end of August each year, we take a break from our monthly commentary based on the prior month’s deal activity and look back at the past twelve months. If past is prologue, and to a reasonable extent we believe it is, then we hope to provide a high-level macro perspective on what the deal activity tells us about where the industry is headed. Which segments have experienced more, or less, deal activity? What are the trends in the buyers’ rationale to complete these acquisitions? Are acquirers adding facilities to their networks, or opportunistically folding acquisitions into their existing facilities? What does all this tell us about the potential future transactional activity within each print segment?

We review, categorize, sort, count, and chart the data we have collected, comparing the trailing twelve months (“TTM”) ended this August to the prior twelve months. This year we have included the prior four years to provide a visual bridge over the pandemic period.

In pure numeric M&A terms, deal activity during the past twelve months was off 13.1% from last year and was the same as the pandemic year, based on our analysis of the twelve months ended August 2020. We identified approximately 192 transactions of interest during the past twelve months; exactly the same number we tracked in the period ended August 2020, when many companies took the biggest hit from Covid, and dealmakers hit the brakes.

In April of this past year, we noted an exceptionally slow month in terms of number of deals, the least number of deals in any of the 140 months during which we tracked print & packaging M&A up to that point. We asked the question at the end of April: Was this an aberrant month, or were we headed into deeper turbulent waters? Will we navigate to the elusive soft landing? (See The Target Report: Sudden Drop-Off – April 2023) The answer is still not clear, but the data indicates some ripples that warrant paying attention, as does the recent increase in the restructuring part of our consulting practice here at Graphic Arts Advisors.


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