Global revenues at HarperCollins fell 2% year on year for the three months ending 31st March while parent firm News Corp reported an 8% decline over the same period.
The company's third-quarter results showed total revenue at HarperCollins was down from $261m to $272m in the same period last year. However, EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) climbed 4% from $53m to $55m. Figures from HarperCollins UK were not broken out.
News Corp said the revenue decline was partly due to foreign currency fluctuations but also “difficult comparisons to the prior year” which had seen high sales of Open Book by Jessica Simpson, Find Your Path by Carrie Underwood and Profiles in Corruption by Peter Schweizer.
Digital sales increased 3% compared to the previous year, “primarily due to growth in downloadable audiobooks”, and represented 23% of consumer revenues for the quarter.
On the impact of coronavirus on publishing, News Corp reported: “The retail market continued to be adversely affected by government restrictions globally. However, online sales have been strong in recent weeks and e-books have returned to growth.”
News Corp c.e.o. Robert Thomson said: “Clearly the pandemic will have an impact on our results in the fourth quarter, but all of our businesses are embarking on cost-cutting programmes intended to deal with short-term need but also to ensure that the company is well equipped to prosper in a decidedly different business environment after the crisis abates.
“There will obviously be an impact on executive compensation, and it is worth noting that bonuses are often the largest cash component for our senior executives. Pay reductions will be led by our executive chairman, Rupert Murdoch, who is voluntarily forgoing his entire cash bonus for the current fiscal year, and as chief executive I will forgo 75% of my annual cash bonus. The collective cuts in bonuses and other cost initiatives will have a positive impact on profitability and our cash position.”