Scholastic got fiscal year 2019 off to a good start with sales in the first quarter ended August 31, up 15% over the comparable period in fiscal 2018, hitting $218.4 million. The operating loss was cut to $83.8 million, down from $101.8 million a year ago.
The sales gain was mainly fueled by the company’s children’s book publishing and distribution group, where revenue rose 40% over the comparable quarter last year. Part of the increase—$12 million—was due to an accounting change, but sales grew in all three segment of the group.
The strongest increase was led by the trade division where sales rose 26%, to $59.0 million. Key trade titles in the most recent period included Dog Man: Lord of the Fleas The Lost Continent, and City of Ghosts. The quarter is a small one for book clubs and book fairs, but revenue at clubs increase 14% over fiscal 2018 and book fair sales rose 9%.
Revenue in the education division increased 12%, to $50.3 million, driven by higher sales of classroom collections, summer literacy programs, and teaching resources, as well as guided reading materials, Scholastic said.
Revenue dropped 3% in Scholastic’s international division with improved results in the U.K.’s education, trade, book fairs and export business units, higher trade publishing and book fairs in Canada, and higher direct sales in Indonesia, India and Malaysia more than offset by lower results in Australia and the adverse impact of $1.7 million in foreign exchange, Scholastic reported.
In prepared remarks, Scholastic chairman Dick Robinson said the first quarter results, “put us firmly on track to achieving our operating goals for the fiscal year.” The company said it still expects revenue for fiscal 2019 to be in the range of $1.65 billion and $1.70 billion with earnings per share, excluding one-time items, in the $1.60 to $1.70 range