Penguin Random House Has Softer Sales (Probably) and Strong Earnings In First Half

Penguin Random House plus the separately-owned Random House Germany together had sales in the first half of 2014 of €1.461 billion, with operating EBITDA of €159 million. (The Santillana trade publishing business was added July 1, after the close of these results.) It is the first time that the combined business has reported sales for the first six months of the year, and while the company did not disclose direct comps to prior performance, sales look to be down by about €40 million, or 2.7 percent, likely from the Random House side (which had Dan Brown's Inferno in 2013, and strong continuing Fifty Shades sales), with profits nearly flat. (Accounting variations between the two companies make it harder to compare earnings than sales, however.)

This time last year, Random House alone had sales of €915 million and profits were a first-half-year record of €131 million. Separately, Penguin had strong first half sales of £513 million pounds in 2013 -- or about €585 million (up from £441 million in 2012) -- and operating profit of £28 million (or €32 million).

CEO Markus Dohle writes to employees about the "solid first-half performance" that "it was our children's and YA megabestsellers across our companies internationally that had the greatest impact on our top and bottom lines." John Green's The Fault In Our Stars was the leading performer (as Pearson noted in July), selling 5.7 million units across all territories. Other strong titles came from Gayle Forman, James Dashner, Jeff Kinney, and Frozen and Lego movie tie-ins.

Overall at Bertelsmann, sales rose almost €500 million to €7.85 billion, and operating EBIT was flat at €1.015 billion. CEO Thomas Rabe said in the release: "The first six months of 2014 went satisfactorily for Bertelsmann. The significant increase in revenues is a testament to the effectiveness of our strategy, and last year’s big investments are paying off. In the past few months, we have made significant progress in our four strategic directions: strengthening the core, digital transformation, expanding growth platforms, and our businesses in growth regions. We are well on our way to making Bertelsmann a faster-growing, more digital and more international company long-term. In the months and years ahead, we will focus on expanding our Education business, which will become a third mainstay of revenues alongside Media and Services."

For some additional context and background, we are working on a beta feature so new it doesn't even have a name yet. But think of it as "Index Pages" for major companies and storylines -- highlighting stories from our vast archive and other PM data (like our publishers/imprints trees and dealmakers pages). Our Penguin Random House page -- still a work in progress -- is posted here.