Declines in several of its operating divisions resulted in an 8.5% drop in revenues, to $281.6 million, at the McGraw-Hill Cos.' education group for the first quarter ended March 31, 2002. The net loss rose to $71.8 million from $57.8 million in the first quarter of 2001.

The higher education division was the group's best performing segment in the period, with MHC reporting "solid" gains in the unit. MHC chairman Terry McGraw said sales were strong across the board, with the business and economic categories having an especially good quarter. McGraw said the publisher expects the higher education group to have double-digit revenue gains for the year.

Fewer adoption opportunities resulted in a slow start for MHC's elhi division, and McGraw said the surprise postponement of the Virginia reading adoption hurts the prospects for overall industry growth in the year. A key to funding in 2002 depends on whether any federal money tied to the No Child Left Behind Act reaches states in the year, McGraw said.

Sales in both the professional and international operations were down in the period. International sales were off due to softness in Latin America, while the professional division was hurt by continued softness in the computer book market as well as weak sales in the STM market. McGraw said he expects the international division "to turn around as the year progresses," while the professional segment should get a boost from the release of a revised edition of The Encyclopedia of Science and Technology.

Sales in the children's publishing division were up in the quarter, helped by the acquisition of Frank Schaffer.