Scholastic misses estimates as Hunger Games sales fall

REUTERS - Scholastic Corp , the U.S. publisher of the "Harry Potter" series, posted quarterly results way below analysts' estimates due to lower sales of "The Hunger Games," a trilogy of young adult fiction by Suzanne Collins.

The company has been cutting costs amid a decline in sales of "The Hunger Games" series. Both U.S. and international sales of the trilogy fell in the first quarter, Scholastic said in a statement.

Scholastic, however, reaffirmed its full-year forecast. The company said it expected sales of $1.8 billion and earnings of $1.40-$1.80 per share from continuing operations.

Sales of "The Hunger Games" books are expected to rise ahead of the release of "Catching Fire," a sequel to the blockbuster film released in 2012, Chief Executive Richard Robinson said.

In the first quarter, the company's revenue fell 6 percent to $276.3 million. Analysts on average were expecting $293.4 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

This is the fifth straight quarter that Scholastic's revenue was below expectations.

Revenue fell 23 percent in the company's biggest business, children's book publishing and distribution, which publishes "The Hunger Games" books. Revenue in its international business declined 13 percent.

Net loss from continuing operations fell to $30.1 million, or 94 cents per share, from $31.7 million, or $1.01 per share.

Excluding one-time items, the company reported a loss of 90 cents per share, way below analysts' average estimate of 68 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Scholastic shares closed at $30.55 on the Nasdaq on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Neha Alawadhi in Bangalore; Editing by Rodney Joyce and Kirti Pandey)

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