John Wiley & Sons CEO Will Pesce told analysts in a conference call discussing year-end results that he is "confident" the company's professional/trade division will grow at a faster pace than the 3% increase posted in the fiscal year ended April 30. He said the unit had built up "some good momentum" at the end of fiscal 2005 that should carry through into the current year. Pesce said he has been particularly pleased with Wiley's sales growth at Amazon, growth that he expects to continue this year.
In the last fiscal year, revenue in the professional/trade division hit $350.3 million, led by sales in the For Dummies line, the professional culinary program and Webster's New World Dictionary. Sales in the consumer technology segment continued to be sluggish in the year.
Wiley's strongest performing segment last year was STM, where sales rose 7%, to $190.5 million. Sales in the group were driven by electronic journals, new society publications and reference books. Revenue in the higher education group fell 1%, to $150.9 million, which the company said was due to weak demand for engineering, math and computer science titles, plus industrywide resistance to high-priced textbooks among college students.
Wiley's total revenue rose 6% in the year, to $974 million, and operating income increased 9%, to $141.2 million. Pesce said he expects sales to increase by the mid-to-high single digits in fiscal 2006, with earnings increasing at a faster pace. During fiscal 2005, Wiley spent $23 million on niche purchases. Pesce said Wiley hasn't made a big deal since its Hungry Minds purchase in 2001 because of "a lack of supply," rather than disinterest on Wiley's part in making a major acquisition. He said if the right opportunity comes along, Wiley has the "expertise and balance sheet" to make a deal.