Revenue at Franklin Electronic Publishers fell 17.2% for the third quarter ended December 31, to $18.8 million, while net income inched up to $1.5 million from $1.4 million. The increase in earnings was due in part to a $966,000 tax refund.

Company president Barry Lipsky attributed the drop in sales to early ordering of its core electronic reference products and to lower European sales. Sales of its reference line fell to $14.9 million from $18 million in last fiscal year's third quarter, and sales of its Rolodex line fell to $2 million from $4.4 million. The declines were somewhat offset by an increase in eBookman sales from $500,000 to $1.6 million as the company continues to liquidate its eBookman inventory. In addition to the tax refund, the bottom line was helped by a 13% decline in expenses that included a 26% reduction in sales and marketing costs and a 6% decline in research and development expenditures.

Lipsky said that while sales of its electronic reference products were below budget in the third quarter, he still expects Franklin to be profitable for the fiscal year ending March 31. Sales for the first nine months of the year were down 2.9%, to $56.3 million, although net income was $4.2 million compared to a $6.4 million net loss in last year's same nine-month period.