Penguin Random House's parent company Bertelsmann has reported its highest first quarter since 2008 with €4.2 billion group revenues as PRH is singled out for delivering "a strong bestseller performance" with Michelle Obama's memoir Becoming.
Bertelsmann, which since October 2017 owns a 75% stake in PRH, reported a 5.4% rise in group revenues to €4.2 billion for the first quarter of 2019 from €3.9 billion the previous year. Organic growth improved to 3.5%. Bertelsmann’s high-growth businesses performed particularly well, recording organic revenue growth of 12.8%. Their share of total revenue amounted to 34%.
In a statement announcing the results, Bertelsmann singled out PRH saying: “Penguin Random House delivered a strong bestseller performance. Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming continued to enjoy strong sales, with more than ten million copies sold through March. On April 1, the trade publishing group acquired the British children’s book publisher Little Tiger Group.”
Unlike previous years, further figures such as EBITDA and group profit were not broken down, as Bertelsmann told The Bookseller it has switched to shorter quarterly statements but will continue to provide detailed figures for the half and full year results.
Bertelsmann chairman and c.e.o. Thomas Rabe said of the results: “The start of this year was very promising. Bertelsmann looks back on one of its best first quarters in recent years. The strategic expansion of ourhigh-growth businesses in recent years is increasingly bearing fruit. In the first few months of 2019, we once again made considerable progress in implementing our strategy. One focus was stepping up the establishment of collaborations, such as the Bertelsmann Content Alliance in Germany.” This Alliance was announced in February, with the company coordinating all its content businesses in Germany, to develop and market collaborative formats across all its divisions.
Rabe added: “We will continue to invest in our businesses’ creativity and entrepreneurship over the course of the year and are confident of achieving our targets for the full year.”
Bernd Hirsch, Bertelsmann’s chief financial officer, said: “We have had a very successful first quarter. We continue to expect higher revenues and continued high operating profitability for the full year. Our Group profit should exceed the billion-euro mark again.”
Last month, following the company's strong results for the 2018 financial year - lifted by Becoming and a robust audio performance - Rabe declared that Brexit will "go down in history as one of the most destructive decisions ever". The performance of Penguin Random House was posited as one of the main drivers for Bertelsmann's revenue rise for 2018, alongside that of the company's RTL Group, BMG, Arvato and the Bertelsmann Education Group.
In November Bertelsmann reported its highest nine-month group sales since 2007, with a 2.4% rise in revenue year-on-year to €12.4bn.
Bertelsmann is a media, services and education company that operates in around 50 countries around the world.