HarperCollins’ bet on Sarah Palin paid off over the holidays as Going Rogue helped to drive sales for the publisher in the quarter ended December 31. Total revenue in the period rose 25%, to $381 million, and operating profits jumped to $65 million from $23 million. Comparisons were helped by the fact that the fourth quarter in calendar 2008 was one of the worst at HC in several years, with revenue falling 25% and profits plunging 66%. Despite the turnaround, CEO Brian Murray said he remained cautious about prospects for the year. "I'm still worried about retail, and consumer spending in general," Murray said.
The improved results in the most recent quarter put sales and earnings close to where they were at the end of the 2007 holiday season. Last year’s poor fourth quarter was followed by a significant downsizing at HC a little over one year ago. Among other actions, the Collins division was integrated back into the general books group and Brenda Bowen’s imprint was closed. HC said the increase in profits was driven by higher revenue, improved margins on sales and lower costs.
In addition to Rogue, which has 2.8 million copies in print, other titles that did well in the quarter included Where the Wild Things Are, which benefited from the release of the movie, The Vampire Diaries, The Lacuna, Pirate Latitudes, SuperFreakonomics and Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas. E-book sales continued to do well and accounted for about 5% of adult sales in the quarter.
For the first half of fiscal 2010, revenue at HC was up 11%, to $691 million, and operating income jumped over 200% to $85 million