Revenue dropped 11% in the second quarter of fiscal 2020 at HarperCollins compared to one year ago, while earnings fell 28%, parent company News Corp reported. Sales were $442 million in the period ended December 31, 2019, down from $496 million in the comparable period in fiscal 2019. EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) fell to $63 million from $88 million.
News Corp said the declines were largely due to difficult comparisons to last year, when HC had a number of big bestsellers including Homebody: A Guide to Creating Spaces You Never Want to Leave by Joanna Gaines, Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson.
The decline was partially offset by the success of The Pioneer Woman Cooks: The New Frontier by Ree Drummond and The Beast of Buckingham Palace by David Walliams.
Digital sales increased 5% compared to the prior year, as a 17% increase in downloadable audiobook sales offset e-book decline; digital revenue represented 19% of consumer revenue for the quarter, the company said.
For the first six months of fiscal 2020 earnings dropped 28%, to $112 million, on a 7% decline in sales, to $847 million.In the conference call discussing resutls News CEO Robert Thomson said he expects HC to show improvement in the second half of the fiscal year. He point to the success of the Dutch House by Ann Patchett and the recent successful release of Profiles in Corruption by Peter Schweizer. Thomson said HC is also looking forward to the April release of volume 2 of Joanna Gaines, popular Magnolia Table and that the publisher expects to benefit from the release of the film, The Woman in the Window based on autonomous best seller by A. J. Finn.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to include remarks made on the News Corp conference call.