Courier Corp. began to show improvement in both its manufacturing and publishing segments in the quarter ended December 26, the first period of its new fiscal year. Total revenue increased 6%, to $63.1 million, and net income jumped to $2.8 million from $703,000 in the comparable quarter of fiscal 2009. Revenue in the manufacturing group increased 8%, to $54.8 million, while publishing segment revenue inched up to $11.6 million from $11.5 million.

On the printing side, sales gains were led by sales to the education market, which had a 15% gain driven by four-color textbooks for the higher education market. Sales to the religious market rose 12% due to the return of a major customer, while sales to the trade were flat. The company has increased its presence in the educational printing market with an acquisition, buying Highcrest Media, a provider of Web-based software used in the production of customized textbooks for colleges and universities.

In publishing, sales at Dover rose 18% and jumped 48% at REA, which benefited from a large introduction of new titles. The gains offset a 61% decline at Creative Homeowner, which continues to suffer from weakness in customer traffic at home centers. The decline also reflects $1.2 million in sales last year in its now closed distribution operation.

Courier CEO James Conway said he was pleased with the start of the new fiscal year, but warned, “The challenges are far from over. Customers are still worried about the economy, retailers are still ordering cautiously, and price competition remains intense.” For the full year, Courier expects sales to finish between $255 million and $266 million compared to revenue of $248.8 million last year. Earnings per share are projected to be in the 75 cents to $1.00 range; last year’s earnings per share was 86 cents, excluding charges.