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For a variety of reasons, I am unable to attend this year’s YPA Annual Convention in Las Vegas. The Kelsey Group is very well represented at this conference, just as we were at the Association of Directory Publishers event a few weeks ago. Nevertheless, I really like to attend to network with old friends, spend time with clients and prospects, learn from some of the great speakers, and participate in the lively discussions that take place both in the breakout sessions and in a more social environment. It is, of course, a lot less stressful to attend an event that somebody else is running than one of our own.

One of the reasons that these events are so interesting is to listen to the optimism from the podium. I imagine Kathy Harless, Denny Payne and Neg Norton all reporting that we are facing challenging times. However, because of the industry’s strong market position, feet on the street, dedicated employees, commitment to innovation and the directories’ convenient location in the kitchen drawer, the industry continues to be very healthy. Just last week R.H. Donnelley, AT&T and PagesJaunes all announced earnings that were basically in line with what analysts had anticipated. Print growth was somewhat disappointing, but the online segment showed continued strength.

Yell Group’s U.S.-based operations, Yellow Book, whose growth actually exceeded that of the previously mentioned companies, is experiencing a decline in its organic growth rate. Since the percentage growth projected for the remainder of the year was below that anticipated by Wall Street, Yell Group’s stock took a big hit. The combination of the sheer size of Yellow Book, the number of companion books put out by incumbent publishers and new books from small companies emulating Yellow Book’s strategy (and in many cases its look and feel) led to the inevitable slowdown.

Tuesday, May 1, The Kelsey Group will be active participants in two important sessions. Charles Laughlin, senior vice president, program director of The Kelsey Report, and managing editor of TKG, will give a presentation at the International Member Lunch on Global Yellow Pages and the Directional Media Forecast 2007-2011. Later in the day, Neal Polachek, senior vice president, research/consulting and advisory services, will be providing a different perspective of the future in his provocative presentation, A Case for the “Print on Demand” Directory. Today he was scheduled to introduce the keynote speaker, Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired Magazine.

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