Despite a 25% decline in first-quarter sales, to $34.8 million, Golden Books was able to cut its net loss to $11.3 million in the period ended March 31, 1999, from $20.9 million in the same period last year. Golden chairman Richard Snyder said the results "demonstrate that we have our costs under control." To help improve margins, Golden has eliminated the sale of products below an acceptable profit rate.

The change in product mix was one reason cited by Golden for a drop in the revenues in its children's publishing division, where sales fell to $25.6 million from $33.9 million. Other factors that contributed to the drop were decreased sales of key licensed products and reduced buying from certain mass merchants.

Revenues in the entertainment segment fell 45% in the quarter to $3.2 million, due mainly to a decrease in television-related sales. Commercial product revenues fell 39% to $2 million.

The reduction in operating losses has Golden executives cautiously optimistic that the company is seeing the start of a turnaround. "This is the first time in three years that we finished a quarter ahead of plan," noted Philip Galanes, chief administrative officer.

The company could also soon be receiving a major shot in the arm -- sources told PW that Golden has secured most of the book -- publishing rights to the newest children's craze, Pokemon. And in another sign of progress, the bankruptcy judge has approved Golden's reorganization plan; the plan is being sent to stockholders and certain other creditors for a vote.