Official printer of golf's Ryder Cup

The scorecards may still be done by hand, but when the world's best golfers descend on Louisville for the 2008 Ryder Cup, all the paperwork will be coming from Lexmark printers.

The Lexington-based printer maker is the "exclusive provider of output technology" for the event at the Valhalla Golf Club from Sept. 16 to 21.

Lexmark will provide laser and multi-function printers, as well as network management and on-site personnel.

OfficeMax selling more

Lexmark inkjet printer chief Paul Rooke spoke last week to investors at a Citigroup technology conference about the company's distribution.

Rooke said the company has made some progress in getting more of its inkjet products into office superstores, particularly OfficeMax.

"You'll see a number of inkjets, particularly our Professional Series ... We're quite pleased with the results we've seen there so far," he said.

He called the company's presence "mixed at the moment" in consumer electronics stores.

Lexmark has a strong presence at Circuit City, with whom it has partnered in a recent advertising campaign. However, it was taken off U.S. Best Buy shelves earlier this year, and Best Buy sells the products only online.

Overseas losing ground

Lexmark lost ground in the first half of the year in markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, according to market research firm Gartner, Inc.

Trade publication Channel Web reports that Samsung replaced Lexmark as fifth in market share in the regions.

HP remained the dominant leader with a market share of 44.6 percent, followed by Canon, 16.4 percent; Epson, 12.9 percent; Brother, 6.3 percent; and Samsung, 6 percent.

New Middle East leader

Lexmark recently installed a new sales chief for its Middle East business. Mark Thompson previously worked in South Africa and will succeed Mohammed Addarrat, according to a report on

Thompson will focus on what's called the channel, or the companies that purchase printers from Lexmark and then resell them.

Addarrat told that Thompson brings "a fresh set of eyes to the management."

"A large number" of that management, he said, has been relocated recently.

Stock buybacks sped up

Lexmark disclosed to its investors last week that it has sped up its buyback of stock.

In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said it hired Citibank to buy up more than 3.4 million shares of stock by last Friday.

That's 85 percent of the shares that the deal calls to be repurchased by Citibank on behalf of Lexmark.

Lexmark is paying the company $150 million from its available cash.

The company said it's a more effective and economical way to do a share repurchase.

Lexmark has been aggressively buying back stock over the past few years. Between 2004 and and the middle of 2007, it spent about $2.4 billion buying back shares. The share count dropped from 133.1 million at that time to 95.5 million.

The company had stopped, though, as most of its available cash was overseas and would have to be repatriated, triggering taxes.

But it began again this year after it issued $650 million in debt for reasons including to fund share repurchases.

The company touts the buybacks as a way of returning value to shareholders by lowering the number of outstanding shares, though some analysts have questioned why the company doesn't establish a dividend instead.

New large shareholder

An SEC filing last week disclosed that investment group D.E. Shaw & Co. owns more than 5 percent of Lexmark's stock.

The SEC requires such large investors to disclose their holdings.

The company owns more than 4.6 million shares in the company, which amounted to 5.3 percent as of Sept. 1.