John Wiley & Sons increased sales and profits in the first quarter, ended July 31, with its professional/trade publishing division showing the most growth despite continued weaknesses in some of the unit's core markets.
Wiley's U.S. professional/ trade revenues increased by 8% over the first quarter of the prior year, to $76.1 million. The higher revenue came in part from solid sales of technology books aimed at consumers—on subjects such as digital photography, digital imaging and home networking—helping to offset soft demand for titles published for computer professionals.
In a conference call to analysts, Wiley CEO Will Pesce pointed to strong sales of consumer technology books, in particular those of the For Dummies brand, as validation of its 2001 acquisition of Hungry Minds. That deal enabled the company, which had catered mostly to the high-end technology market, to broaden its computer publishing program. Also strong in the first quarter were sales of business titles, with backlist books in leadership, real estate, finance and accounting defying what the company termed "challenging market conditions."
Wiley's U.S. higher education unit also had higher revenue and profits, reflecting growth in sales of life sciences titles and what the company described as solid performances of its physical sciences and life sciences programs. The division's revenue increased 6% in the quarter, to $47.8 million.
First-quarter revenues for the company's U.S. science, technical and medical group fell 2%, to $41.7 million, due to sluggish book sales and the effect of the Rowecom bankruptcy on journal revenue.
Wiley's total first-quarter revenue rose 6%, reaching $219.7 million. Excluding the effect of currency exchange, revenue rose by 4%. First quarter net income edged up to $21.8 million, from $20 million the prior year. Excluding a one-time charge related to the company's relocation to New Jersey in the prior year, last year's first quarter net income was $21.5 million.
While the company is concentrating on organic growth, it also is on the lookout for acquisitions that fit into its core areas, Pesce said. "Overall, the deal flow is not very strong right now," he said. "That does not mean there might not be some niche opportunities out there."