HarperCollins’ global sales recorded a disappointing fourth quarter, down from $490m in 2018 to $419m in 2019, a decrease of 14%, for the three months ending 30th June. The result reflected the absence of the one-time contribution from the sublicensing agreement for Amazon's The Lord of the Rings prequel series last year, parent company News Corp said.
However for the fiscal year ending 30th June, worldwide revenue remained stable at $1.754bn (just down on $1.758bn in the prior year) and segment EBITDA rose by 6% from $239m in 2018 to a record of $253m thanks to “successful frontlist titles, strong backlist and continued expansion of downloadable audiobook sales”, News Corp reported.
“Digital sales increased 7% compared to the prior year, driven by the growth in downloadable audiobook sales, and represented 20% of consumer revenues for the year,” the company said. Meanwhile for the fourth quarter segment, digital sales increased slightly by 1%.
Analysing the results, News Corp said in its trading statement that, “full year revenues were flat compared to the prior year, as higher sales in the Christian, general and children’s books categories were offset by $65m of lower revenues as a result of the adoption of the new revenue recognition standard, the absence of $28m of revenues from The Lord of the Rings trilogy sublicensing agreement in the prior year and the $27m negative impact from foreign currency fluctuations”.
HarperCollins also ascribed its digital audiobooks, Christian publishing, and strong backlist sales to its strong third quarter sales, as reported in May.
The decline in the fourth quarter revenues “was partially offset by the success of new releases such as Everything is F*cked by Mark Manson and The World’s Worst Teachers by David Walliams”.