HarperCollins sales down 6% in fourth quarter

HarperCollins sales down 6% in fourth quarter

The emergence of digital audiobooks are a “potent source” of long term growth, the chief executive of HarperCollins’ parent company News Corp Robert Thomson has said, at the same time as revealing sales in the publisher’s fourth quarter were down by 6%.

News Corp has reported its fourth quarter financial results, for the three months to 30th June, revealing that revenues declined $26m or 6% year-on-year in the quarter to $407m.

The decline was partly driven by the same quarter in 2016 having an extra week, which accounted for $19m of the decline, but the publisher also suffered from “lower sales at the Children’s division, which had bigger title releases in the prior year” along with negative impact from foreign currency fluctuations. EBITDA at HarperCollins also declined by 22% to $39m in the fourth quarter, which the firm attributed to “higher employee related expenses and higher royalty costs related to certain new releases in the fiscal year”.

For the full year, sales were down by 1% ($10m) to $1.636bn, but its profits were improved, with an EBITDA of $199 million, up from $185 million a year earlier.

Digital sales at the company meanwhile rose marginally, representing 20% of consumer revenues for the quarter, up 1% last year.

Chief Executive Robert Thomson said HarperCollins posted higher EBITDA and margins this year through “poignant books with broad appeal” in the US such as The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines and Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance.

He added: “We believe that the emergence of digital audio and our expanding global footprint are potent sources of long-term growth.”

UK results for HarperCollins were not broken out.