To our shareholders
In 2022, Quad continued to accelerate our competitive position as a marketing experience — or MX — company.
Increasingly, the world’s best brands recognize the value we provide through our holistic, multichannel, through-the-line marketing solutions. We guide brands through every effort intended to drive action — from consumer awareness and trust, to brand preference and purchase — giving them a more streamlined, impactful, flexible and frictionless way to go to market and reach consumers. By leveraging our three competitive advantages — integrated platform excellence, ongoing innovation, and culture and social purpose — we create a better way for our clients, employees and communities.
We delivered strong 2022 results despite economic and supply chain headwinds. We met or exceeded our guidance across all metrics, including outperforming our top-line guidance with an 11% increase in Net Sales when excluding divestitures. We also continued to pay down debt and have reduced Net Debt by $489 million or 47% over the past three years. At year-end 2022, we achieved a Debt Leverage Ratio of 2.16x — our lowest leverage level since 2018 and on the low end of our longterm targeted range of 2.0x — 2.5x.
We continue to aggressively push forward on our growth strategy as an MX company, servicing marketers’ needs from end to end. We have increased investment in our people, processes and technology, including enhancing our Agency Solutions offerings and bringing aboard experienced business development professionals who can sell into our critical growth verticals of direct-to-consumer, financial services, healthcare, insurance, and consumer packaged goods.
Our platform is one-of-a-kind as it provides all the resources our clients need to plan, create, deploy, measure and optimize their marketing efforts across all media channels, offline or online. We reduce the complexities of working with multiple agency partners and vendors, and increase the efficiency of marketing processes. We do this while maximizing the effectiveness of our clients’ marketing efforts through our ability to:
- Target and reach the right audiences;
- Scale resources more efficiently, while increasing speed to market;
- Achieve better integration of offline and online channels;
- Optimize media performance;
- Drive consistent consumer experiences; and
- Realize meaningful cost savings.
A key aspect of our integrated marketing platform is dedicated on-site and near-site teams that serve as an extension of our clients’ internal marketing departments. We have more than 80 on-site locations at client companies where our employees fulfill traditional agency executional roles while also providing production efficiencies at scale for content creation, creative production and marketing deployment.
Due to the strength of our integrated marketing platform, we are winning higher value, higher margin work from leading brands across multiple verticals. For example, we recently expanded our relationship beyond traditional print media execution with a leading regional retailer that operates more than 500 supercenters, neighborhood markets and grocery stores. The client was seeking a better way to manage its traditional and digital media spend. Our Quad Media team presented a comprehensive solution for integrated media planning and placement across all channels, including search engine optimization, social media, programmatic, TV, radio, out-of-home and print. A key feature of our solution was our ability to offer advanced cross-channel performance management via our proprietary Connex technology. Connex allows our client to not only be able to uncover performance trends by audience, creative, product and location, but also identify specific growth opportunities and take immediate actions to accelerate media performance. We are also leveraging our cloud-based Software as a Service — or SaaS — platform for managing workflow, which includes the ability to streamline personalization at scale across multiple media channels. We are pleased to have expanded our relationship with this client based on the strength of our integrated marketing platform and commitment to ongoing innovation.
We also continue to take seriously our role in creating a better way through our approach to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) matters. In 2022, we advanced several of our environmental and social commitments, including:
- Improving the representation among our U.S. employees and U.S. management team in both gender, and race and ethnicity;
- Incorporating diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) competencies into performance reviews for U.S. leaders;
- Achieving an 18% increase in annual spend with diverse suppliers; and
- Partnering with clients to increase our certified paper usage to 80%.
These and other ESG accomplishments are detailed in our 2022 ESG Update, available for download on Quad.com.
Diversity, equity and inclusion remains a key focus for our company — especially for attracting and retaining the talent who will accelerate our growth. For example, we continue to build gender diversity in our leadership. In January 2023, we appointed Beth-Ann Eason, a leader with deep experience in advertising, marketing, publishing and digital transformation, to our Board of Directors. In March 2023, we promoted Maura Packham as Senior Vice President for Corporate Responsibility. Reporting into Maura is Kaitlin Vaughn who earned recognition as a Milwaukee Business Journal 40 Under 40 in 2023 for her work on building our DEI learning programs and empowering women through our Business Resource Group for women and their allies, called The Circle.
As far as how we run our business, we remain committed to effective Governance and have programs and policies in place that reflect our culture of high ethical standards and legal compliance, reducing risk to the company and all stakeholders.
As we continue our journey forward, I am thankful for our employees who are the heart of our “maker” culture — a culture in which employees not only envision solutions but also create and execute them.
Quad delivered strong 2022 financial results — meeting or exceeding guidance across all metrics, including outperforming Net Sales growth and Free Cash Flow. The company achieved these results while successfully navigating multiple challenges, including paper and supply chain disruption, inflationary cost pressures and labor shortages.
Net Sales in 2022 were $3.2 billion, up 9% from 2021 and up 11% when excluding divestitures. The Net Sales increase was due to increased sales in all offerings.
Net Earnings were $9 million in 2022 as compared to $38 million in 2021 primarily due to higher 2021 net non-recurring earnings from asset sales and a property insurance gain. Non-GAAP Adjusted EBITDA was $252 million in 2022 as compared to $261 million in 2021, and Non-GAAP Adjusted EBITDA margin was 7.8% in 2022 as compared to 8.8% in 2021. However, when excluding a $13 million 2021 property insurance gain, Adjusted EBITDA increased $5 million in 2022 as compared to 2021.
Non-GAAP Adjusted Diluted Earnings Per Share increased to $0.89 per share in 2022 compared to $0.60 in 2021. This increase was primarily due to increased recurring earnings and was also benefited by repurchasing 3.1 million shares for $10 million in 2022, representing over 5% of our then-outstanding shares.
Net Cash Provided by Operating Activities increased by $18 million in 2022 to $155 million, as compared to 2021, and Non-GAAP Free Cash Flow increased by $8 million in 2022 to $94 million, as compared to 2021. The increase in Free Cash Flow was due to increased Net Cash Provided by Operating Activities, partially offset by a $10 million increase in capital expenditures. Quad dedicates significant capital to automation — with $60 million of capital expenditures in 2022 and plans to increase capital expenditures in 2023.
At year-end 2022, we improved our Debt Leverage Ratio 23 basis points to 2.16x from 2.39x at yearend 2021, approaching the low end of our longterm targeted leverage range of 2.0x — 2.5x. Notably, we have reduced Net Debt by 47% over the past three years and expect to have paid off $564 million of debt by the end of 2023, which would be a 55% debt reduction since January 1, 2020.
Our primary capital allocation objective remains debt reduction and thereby further improving Quad’s financial foundation, which is especially important in these uncertain economic times. We will also continue to position our company for ongoing growth as a marketing experience company by making strategic investments while seeking opportunities to return capital to shareholders.
2023 financial objectives
In 2023, we intend to build on the growth momentum from clients embracing our one-of-a kind integrated marketing platform. We also intend to ensure that Quad remains a compelling long-term investment for our shareholders by progressing on our multi-year financial objectives, which include:
- Growing Net Sales and driving profitability through continued diversification of our revenue and clientele.
- Generating strong Free Cash Flow and using it to reduce debt with the expectation that we will achieve the low end of our long-term targeted leverage range of 2.0x — 2.5x by the end of 2023 and will have reduced debt by more than $560 million or 55% since January 1, 2020.
- Further strengthening what we believe is our industry-leading financial foundation that provides the liquidity for strategically allocating and deploying capital, including scaling the growing parts of our business, such as Agency Solutions and Targeted Print. Our efforts include increased investments in technology, processes and people such as agency, business development and marketing talent who can help us expand in our critical growth verticals.
We remain committed to creating a better, more purposeful and sustainable way forward for all our stakeholders, and will continue to accelerate and scale our growth as a marketing experience company. We have momentum. Our integrated marketing platform connects the dots of the marketing journey in ways that others cannot. Marketers do not have to choose between scale and efficiency, ideas and execution, or creativity and performance. We do it all with our seamlessly integrated marketing solutions.