HarperCollins turned in a “distinguished performance” in the quarter ended March 31, 2019, according to Robert Thomson, CEO of parent company News Corp. In particular, HC’s earnings had a huge quarter, with EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) jumping 29% over the comparable period a year ago, rising to $53 million, from $41 million, in the third quarter of fiscal 2018. Revenue in the period increased 6%, to $421 million.
The revenue growth was primarily due to higher sales in Christian publishing, News Corp said, driven by the success of such new titles as Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis and We are the Gardeners by Joanna Gaines, as well as the continued success of backlist titles including Girl, Wash Your Face, also by Hollis. Overall, backlist accounted for 63% of revenue in the quarter, Thomson said.
Digital sales rose 5% worldwide in the quarter driven by a 32% gain in downloadable audio, which offset softness in e-book sales. In the quarter, digital sales represented 21% of consumer revenue, down from 22% in the same period last year.
For the first nine months of fiscal 2019, which ends June 30, earnings at HC were up 25% over the comparable period in fiscal 2018, to $209 million, while sales increased 5%, to $1.33 billion. The only negative at HC involved the forecast for the current quarter; in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2018, HC had $29 million in revenue and $21 million in earnings from the licensing deal with Amazon for the Lord of the Rings trilogy.