Canada’s Torstar reported fourth-quarter and fiscal year results Wednesday, and the performance of Harlequin fits the general pattern of other publicly-reported trade publishers: sales were down a little, and operating earnings rose. This is what the digital transition looks like.
For the full year, digital comprised 15.5 of revenues of $459 million CA (down 2 percent from $468 million the previous year). In the fourth quarter alone, digital accounted for 17.7 percent of worldwide sales of $118 million, down $2 million.
Digital sales added $7 million in the fourth quarter compared to a year ago, while retail print sales declined $6.2 million (and direct-to-consumer sales fell slightly). Operating earnings rose, however, to $20.2 million, up from $16.9 million a year ago. The company says “higher North American operating earnings in the fourth quarter of 2011 included the benefit from lower costs including incentives and promotional spending as well as lower costs associated with digital revenue.”
For the full year, digital revenues rose $29.5 million and retail print sales fell $23.5 million. The company blames “the economic weakness in Europe” for “a negative impact on Harlequin’s overseas operations in 2011.” Operating earnings for the year were $82.4 million, down $1.7 million compared to a year ago.