Lagardere Publishing Finishes with Improved Fourth Quarter

Lagardere's book publishing units finished the year with a good fourth quarter (after another soft year overall): sales of €569 were up 4.2 percent overall from €546 a year ago, and up 6.7 percent on an underlying basis.

The UK division, which has been lagging most of the year, finished with an "exceptional performance," up 12.6 percent, and their big French unit also had notable gains in both general literature and distribution.

For the full year, sales of €2.066 billion were up down slightly on an actual basis (from €2.077 billion), but up 1.0 percent on an underlying basis (primarily based on removing currency fluctuations).

HBG USA was up 6 percent for the year, with education sales in France and Spain the biggest weak spots. eBooks comprised 30 percent of sales for the year in the US, up from 24 percent in 2012; and 27 percent of *adult* trade sales in the UK. Groupwide, since "the digital transition remains for the time being essentially limited to the US and UK markets," ebooks comprised 10.4 percent of sales for the year.

Lagardere will not report on their profits until the fuller annual report on March 12. Their brief statement today indicates that they have revised their estimate upward, and EBIT "is expected slightly above 5 percent, exceeding the guidance announced previously announced."