Restructuring charges and the global pandemic took a toll on Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2020, as the company reported a 25.8% decline in revenue in the year, to $1.03 billion, and a net loss of $480 million, compared to a loss of $213.8 million in 2019. The loss in 2020 includes $312.6 million in one-time charges, including $33.6 million in severance payment associated with HMH’s reorganization efforts that eliminated 525 jobs in the fall.
On an operating level, the trade group’s sales rose 6.5% in the year, to $191.7 million, while the division posted net income of $4.2 million, compared to a loss of $8.1 million in 2019. Revenue in the much larger education group tumbled 30.7%, to $839.5 million, and the operating loss rose to $332.8 million, from $45.9 million in 2019.
In HMM Books & Media, which HMH put up for sale in the fall, the company attributed the revenue gain largely to licensing agreements, including a new $9.6 million deal for an undisclosed series. HMH’s deal with Netflix earned the publisher $3.4 million last year.
Book sales were relatively flat, HMH said. A number of frontlist titles did well, the company said, pointing to The 99% Invisible City, Compromised, and Defined Dish. In general, though, HMH said sales in both the adult and children’s groups were down last year, with the company blaming bookstore closures and delays in releasing certain new frontlist titles. HMH had no immediate update on how the proposed sale of the trade division is progressing.