Total revenue at Houghton Mifflin rose 4.7% in the first quarter ended March 31, to $139 million, and the company lowered its loss from continuing operations to $90.4 million, from $120.6 million in last year's first quarter.

The elhi segment had the strongest performance in the period, with sales up 16%, to $80.7 million. The increase was due to good gains in HM's reading and literacy products, early ordering in California and from acquisitions. In last year's final quarter, HM acquired the testing company Edusoft as well as Cognitive Concepts, a supplementary publisher best know for Earobics Literacy Launch, an early literacy program.

Despite the gain in the quarter, HM remained cautious on prospects for the entire year, noting the lack of major adoption opportunities in 2004. HM president Tony Lucki noted that during the year, the elhi division will be "reviewing our business processes and cost structure while implementing new back-office systems, all of which we expect will create greater efficiencies."

In the college segment, sales declined 12.7%, to $18.3 million, which HM attributed to lower January reorders. Sales in the trade and reference segment fell 4%, to $26 million, due mainly to lower royalty income from licensed products.