From the company's press release:
New York, NY (July 24, 2008) -- Scholastic Corporation (NASDAQ: SCHL), the global children’s publishing, education and media company, today reported its results for the fiscal 2008 fourth quarter and full year and its outlook for fiscal 2009. It also announced that its Board of Directors has declared a quarterly dividend of $0.075 per share to be paid on September 15, 2008 to shareholders of record on August 4, 2008.
“Given our track record of strong free cash flow, generating $188 million in fiscal 2008, and low debt levels, we repurchased $220 million in stock last year while continuing to invest in strategic growth opportunities,” stated Richard Robinson, Chairman, CEO and President. “Initiating a regular dividend allows us to return additional cash to Scholastic shareholders.”
For the fiscal year ended May 31, 2008, the Company had revenue from continuing operations of $2,205.6 million, up 15% from the prior year. Earnings from continuing operations rose to $2.82 per diluted share from $1.70 per diluted share in fiscal 2007. Fiscal 2008 results benefited significantly from the publication of the seventh and final book in the Harry Potter® series.
Revenue from continuing operations in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2008 declined 2% to $536.1 million. Earnings from continuing operations were $0.75 per diluted share compared to $1.04 per diluted share in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2007, primarily reflecting continued investment in the Company’s growth initiatives.
The Company reported that negotiations for the sale of its direct-to-home continuities business, which it previously announced it would exit, moved forward during the quarter, and that it expected to finalize terms in the first quarter of fiscal 2009. Scholastic also announced that it shut down its school-based continuities business effective May 31, 2008. As a result, both businesses have been classified for accounting purposes as discontinued operations in current and prior periods.
In fiscal 2008 the loss from discontinued operations, net of tax, was $3.39 per diluted share, compared to a net loss of $0.29 per diluted share in fiscal 2007. In the fourth quarter the loss from discontinued operations, net of tax, was $1.09 per diluted share compared to a net loss of $0.11 per diluted share in the prior year period. The greater loss in the current year and quarter primarily reflects non-cash asset write-downs, net of tax, of $2.62 and $0.79 per diluted share, respectively, recorded following the decisions to exit these businesses. In the current year and quarter, the net loss associated with direct-to-home continuities was $0.61 and $0.21 per diluted share, respectively, and with school-based continuities the net loss was $0.16 and $0.09 per diluted share, respectively.
Including continuing and discontinued operations, the fiscal 2008 net loss was $0.57 per diluted share compared to net earnings of $1.42 per diluted share in fiscal 2007. In the fiscal 2008 fourth quarter, the net loss was $0.34 per diluted share compared to net earnings of $0.93 per diluted share in the prior year period.
“Scholastic made important investments in fiscal 2008 to achieve ongoing revenue and profit growth and to reach 9 to 10% operating margins in 2010,” Mr. Robinson added. “These initiatives include:
1. Building and testing a second generation, online selling platform for School Book Clubs to launch in fiscal 2009, which improves on our online system that already handles 60% of Club orders;
2. Expanding the use of point-of-sale equipment and online tools in School Book Fairs, to improve merchandising and the book fair experience;
3. Developing new publishing and online properties, like the innovative multi-platform adventure series The 39 Clues™, which combines books, collectible cards, online games and an interactive website;
4. Investing in a stronger sales and service organization for Scholastic Education and in new technology products like System 44™, a prequel to our top-selling reading-intervention program READ 180®;
5. Accelerating investment in China and Southeast Asia to serve the growing market for English-language books and learning, where Scholastic’s business expanded by more than 20% in fiscal 2008.
In fiscal 2009 we also have plans to reduce costs by $25 to $35 million, through reductions in headcount and other spending areas. Based on these elements, this year’s plan delivers profit and margin growth (excluding Harry Potter) and moves us toward our goal of 9 to 10% operating margins in fiscal 2010.”
Fiscal 2009 Outlook
The Company expects total revenue from continuing operations in fiscal 2009 of approximately $2.0 to $2.1 billion, and earnings per diluted share from continuing operations in the range of $1.75 to $2.10. This guidance reflects growth in revenue of approximately 3 to 5%, and in earnings per diluted share of approximately 10 to 25%, excluding the benefit of Harry Potter in fiscal 2008. Free cash flow is expected to be approximately $90 to $100 million.