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Scholastic fiscal 2nd-qtr profit rises 11 pct

Thu, 12/15/2011 - 5:05am
The Associated Press

Publishing and education company Scholastic Corp. said Thursday that its fiscal second-quarter net income rose nearly 11 percent, boosted by sales of children's books such as "The Hunger Games" trilogy and education technology products, particularly its remedial reading programs. Shares rose in morning trading.

Like many book companies, Scholastic is navigating how to stay relevant to readers who are increasingly shifting from paper books to tablets, such as Apple Inc.'s iPad. The company is preparing to launch an e-reading app and e-bookstore in March 2012.

It is cutting costs in non-digital parts of its business as it invests in e-commerce. Scholastic said in September that it planned to cut annual costs by $15 million, trimming some of its traditional business areas and introducing a voluntary retirement program that would reduce jobs.

Net income rose to $82.8 million, or $2.60 per share, in the three months ended Nov. 30. That's up from $74.9 million, or $2.14 per share, in the same period a year ago.

Analysts polled by FactSet expected net income of $2.33 per share.

Revenue rose 3 percent to $685.3 million from $667.9 million last year. Analysts expected $684.7 million.

Shares gained $1.02, or 4 percent, to $26.70 in morning trading.

Revenue in Scholastic's largest division, children's book publishing, was almost unchanged, but the unit's operating profit grew 12 percent. The company said its books were selling well in stores and online thanks to several best-sellers, and it improved results in its School Book Clubs division, despite a 10 percent revenue decline, by cutting spending on promotions.

Revenue in Scholastic's educational technology division also jumped 30 percent to $65.4 million, while operating income in the division more than quadrupled, reflecting growing sales of its high-margin reading intervention, early learning and math software.

The New York company backed its 2012 outlook for net income from continuing operations between $1.75 to $2.10 per share on revenue of $1.9 billion.

Analysts expect net income of $1.99 per share on revenue of $1.96 billion.

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