Led by its educational publishing segment, Scholastic had a better than expected third quarter ended February 28, although sales still fell to $398.8 million from $423.6 million in last year's comparable quarter. The sales decline was attributed to strong sales last year of The Tales of Beedle the Bard. The company's net loss in the quarter was trimmed to $5.6 million from $36 million.
Sales in the educational segment rose 18%, to $88 million driven by sales of educational technology, including its READ 180 program, which rose 30% helped by federal stimulus funds. Classroom and library sales were about even with the comparable quarter in what Scholastic called a challenging environment.
Sales in Scholastic's largest segment, children's book publishing and distribution, fell 16%, to $192.1 million. The largest decline came in the trade segment, off 38% to $36.0 million, but excluding Harry Potter-related titles, trade sales would have increased led by 39 Clues series and Suzanne Collins' two titles The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. Book club sales fell 14%, to $79.1 million which Scholastic attributed to lower number of sponsor teachers, while sales in book fairs dipped 2%, to 77.0 million due in part to bad winter weather as sales per fair rose.
International segment sales rose 2%, to $88.7 million, due primarily to a positive impact from foreign exchange offset somewhat by declines in Canada. Media, licensing and advertising revenue fell 9%, to $30.0 million.
For the nine month period, total Scholastic sales were up 1.5%, to $1.37 billion and the company posted a net income of $26.9 million compared to a loss of $42 million in the first nine months of fiscal 2009.