Earlier today, Scholastic reported its first quarter Fiscal 2015 results, which you can read here in the press release.
Revenue in the first quarter was $283.8 million, compared to $276.3 million a year ago, an increase of $7.5 million, or 3%. The Company reported first quarter loss per share of $1.05, versus a loss per share of $0.94 in the prior year period.
First quarter revenue increases primarily reflected gains in guided reading and classroom book collections, educational technology math products and programs, international channels, and school clubs and fairs. While the first quarter is not significant for clubs and fairs since most schools are not in session, their combined 20% revenue growth reflects a continuing positive trend.
Free cash use (as defined) for the first quarter was $76.9 million, compared to $93.8 million in the prior year period, mainly due to improved collections and more favorable negotiated terms with the Company’s suppliers. At quarter end, the Company’s net debt (as defined) was $183.5 million versus $13.4 million a year ago. The higher net debt balance was attributable to the Company’s strategic purchase of its headquarters location in New York City in February 2014.
“In our Educational Technology segment this quarter, we further strengthened our field sales organization by adding critical new sales management, and we intensified sales efforts on our core reading and mathematics intervention programs, including services to support the professional growth of teachers. We expect to see higher revenues from these initiatives over the remainder of the fiscal year,” said Richard Robinson, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer. “Meanwhile, strong results in classroom books and our guided reading products show that schools are expanding their use of customized reading programs for grades K−5, while encouraging independent reading and the use of children’s literature programs, which are the hallmark of Scholastic. As a whole, our education business is performing well, as our offerings are aligned with the broader trends in education. In addition, our school-based clubs and fairs are also benefiting from the renewed concentration on independent reading as a gateway to improved student motivation and achievement.”
Scholastic affirmed its fiscal 2015 outlook for total revenue of approximately $1.9 billion and earnings per diluted share from continuing operations in the range of $1.80 to $2.00, before the impact of any one-time items associated with cost reduction programs or non-cash, non-operating items. The Company continues to expect free cash flow in the range of $65 to $85 million.