Lower costs due in part to the restructuring implemented last February plus higher sales led to a dramatic increase in operating profit for HarperCollins in the quarter ended December 31. Earnings jumped to $65 million from $23 million in the same period in 2008, a quarter that was one of the worst for HC in years. Sales in the quarter rose 25%, to $381 million. HC said its divisions worldwide performed well. Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue, with 2.8 million copies in print, helped to drive the gains in the U.S. along with The Lacuna, SuperFreakonomics, and Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas. HC CEO Brian Murray said he remains worried about retail and consumer spending in general despite the publisher’s good quarter.

The rebound in the period brings HC close to where it was two years ago, and its margin in the most recent quarter was higher than in the 2007 quarter. HC operates on a fiscal year ending June 30, and for the first six months of fiscal 2010 revenue was up 11.5%, to $691 million and operating profit rose to $85 million from $26 million.

On a calendar basis, full-year sales at HC were down 4.7% in 2009 compared to 2008, falling to $1.21 billion. Operating profit was off 44.6%, to $46 million, as earnings in 2009 included a $33 million restructuring charge.

HarperCollins Second-Quarter Results, 2007—2009
($ in millions)

2007 2008 2009
Revenue $406 $305 $381
Operating income 67 23 65
Operating margin 16.5% 7.5% 16.8%