Reader's Digest Profit, Earnings Rise for Q3; Revenue Slips

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Reader's Digest Association, Pleasantville, NY, said fiscal third-quarter 2004 operating profit increased considerably over the year-ago quarter, according to its earnings report released yesterday.


The company posted operating profit of $19 million for the quarter ended March 31 compared with a $3 million loss in the same quarter of fiscal 2003. The biggest gain came in the International Business section, which was up $10 million over the previous year to $14 million. The Reader's Digest North America division showed a $2 million increase in operating profit at $11 million, and Consumer Business Services operating profit rose $1 million to $4 million for the third quarter.


Third-quarter earnings per share was 2 cents, up from a loss of 5 cents per share a year ago. This year's quarter included a one-time charge of 4 cents per share as opposed to a charge of 8 cents per share in the previous year's third quarter.


Revenue for third-quarter 2004 was $561 million, down slightly from $563 million in 2003.


"Operating profits for the third quarter were much improved over last year, most notably in International Business, and cash flows continued to be strong," Reader's Digest chairman/CEO Thomas O. Ryder said in a statement. "We projected this improvement as part of our two-year plan, which called for permanent cost reductions along with investments in growth opportunities. The plan anticipated a soft first half in fiscal 2004 followed by a generally stronger second half as we begin to see the concurrent impact of cost reductions and investment returns."


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