Profits jumped 32% at HarperCollins in the second quarter of fiscal 2017 over the comparable period in fiscal 2016. EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) was $75 million in the quarter ended December 31, 2016, up from $57 million a year ago. Revenue in the quarter rose 4%, to $466 million.
The revenue gain was attributed to a mix of strong frontlist sales from such titles as The Magnolia Story and Chaos as well as continued solid sales of backist books such as Jesus Calling and Jesus Always (both by Sarah Young) and Hillbilly Elegy. In a conference call with analysts discussing the results, Robert Thomson, CEO of News Corp parent company of HC, attributed the improvement at the publishing company to HC's "broad roster of books that appealed to and explain the heartland of America, focusing on all Americans and not just the narrow elite."
HC also benefited from a 3% increase in digital sales in the quarter which was led by higher sales of digital audiobooks. News Corp CFO Bedi Singh noted that the most recent quarter was the first time in two years digital sales rose over comparisons to the comparable period in the previous year Digital sales accounted for 16% of HC revenues in the second quarter..
The improved second quarter came after a down first period in which HC struggled with comparisons to the summer of 2015 when Go Set a Watchman sold over 1 million copies. For the first half of fiscal 2017, which ends June 30, 2017, HC’s revenues were flat at $855 million compared to the first half of fiscal 2016. EBITDA was up 24%, to $123 million.
This story has been updated to include remarks made in the conference call.