Total revenue at HarperCollins rose 14% for the third quarter ended March 31, 2015, while EBITDA increased 6% over the comparable period in 2014. Excluding HC’s 2014 purchase of Harlequin, however, third quarter sales were down 5% and EBITDA dropped 8% compared to the prior year, parent company News Corp reported Tuesday afternoon.
Sales in the quarter hit $402 million with $75 million coming from Harlequin. News Corp said HC sales were hurt in comparison to last year by lower sales from the Divergent series, which also contributed to a 3% decline in e-book sales in the quarter. HC did benefit from strong sales of Chris Kyle's autobiography American Sniper, but News noted that the stronger sales of nonfiction titles--which generally do not sell as well in e-book as fiction titles--was another factor in declining e-book sales. E-book sales accounted for 22% of HC consumer revenue in the quarter.
Total EBITDA at the publisher was $56 million with adjusted EBITDA $49 million in the quarter.
For the first nine months of fiscal 2015, total HC sales and earnings were up 19% and 15%, respectively. Excluding the Harlequin acquisition, revenue in the period was flat, but earnings were up 2%.
Looking ahead, News executives said they expect Divergent comparisons to ease in the current quarter, while the Harlequin purchase will provide another lift to HC results.