Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Bertelsmann Reports

Media giant Bertelsmann reported their annual results this morning with net income dropping significantly versus 2006 due to the performance of the Direct Media Group. CEO Ostrowski indicated that Bertelsman would concider selling the Direct group and indeed has taken the decision to dispose of the US segment of this business. Globally the unit operates book, DVD and music clubs as well as bookstores and online shops.

Top line revenues at Bertelsmann dropped nearly 3% due to the strong dollar and the sale of their Music publishing business. Total revenues were €18.8bill.

At Random House they noted the following:
  • U.S.: more than 200 titles on New York Times bestseller lists
  • Winner of Pulitzer Prize in four literary categories
  • Record revenues generated by audio book "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows"
  • U.K.: nearly one third of all titles on Sunday Times bestseller lists
  • Germany: level of growth ahead of market (strong paperback book business)

RH revenues of €1,837mm fell 5.6% with organic revenue growth lower by 1.4%. Operating income was €173mm versus €182mm in 2006.

  • At the Direct Group operating income fell from €110mm in 2006 to €10mm. They noted the following
  • Western Europe: book clubs, book retail and Internet combined in several markets (multi-channel), positive stabilization of Club Germany, good earnings in France and Spain
  • Eastern Europe: successful publishing operations
  • North America: remaining shares of Bookspan acquired, result significantly impacted by decline of CD and DVD business
  • Reorganization of operations: Direct Group (except North America) under F. Carro, North America operations under P. Olson

Link to their management discussion. In this document they discuss 'expanding the definition' of their markets so that they can exploit big business opportunities. This is essentially the strategy that the larger information and professional publishing companies have been following for several years. (I discussed this concept in a speech I gave last week).

More from their full press release on Random House:

In the U.S., Random House published a record 230 New York Times bestsellers, including “Playing for Pizza” by John Grisham; “On Chesil Beach” by Ian McEwan; “Clapton” by Eric Clapton; “Giving” by Bill Clinton and Suze Orman’s “Women & Money”. Among other major bestsellers were the movie tie-in editions of “No Country for Old Men” by Cormac McCarthy, Robert Ludlum’s “The Bourne Ultimatum”; “The Golden Compass” by Philip Pullman and Ian McEwan’s “Atonement.” The Grammy-winning audio edition of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” by J. K. Rowling became the fastest-selling audiobook of all time. In the U.K., Random House Group U.K. outperformed all other publishers in the Sunday Times bestseller lists, accounting for nearly one-third of the year’s overall rankings. “Nigella Express” by Nigella Lawson has sold over one million copies in its hardcover edition. The Group acquired a majority stake in Virgin Books and established several new publishing ventures, such as Transworld Ireland, which is dedicated to Irish authors. In Germany, Verlagsgruppe Random House recorded significant growth in revenues and earnings, which were driven by the success of bestsellers by authors such as Leonie Swann, Dieter Hildebrandt and Eva-Maria Zurhorst, as well as its paperback program and its self-help and religion publishing. In Spain, “La Catedral del Mar” by Ildefonso Falcones, published by Random House Mondadori, continued to enjoy excellent sales. Random House expanded its online marketing capabilities in 2007, launching digital platforms with book-content search-and-browsing capabilities in the U.S., Canada, and Germany. Random House authors won many prestigious awards around the world in 2007: Doris Lessing, published by Random House in Germany and Spain, won the Nobel Prize for Literature, and Al Gore, who publishes with Random House in Germany, Japan, and Korea, received the Nobel Peace Prize. Four Random House, Inc. titles won Pulitzer Prizes, a record for a single year.

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