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Scholastic 1Q loss narrows, launches new programs

NEW YORK (AP) -- Scholastic's fiscal first-quarter loss narrowed as its operating expenses declined and it launched five new education technology programs.

The publishing, education and media company lost $29.9 million, or 94 cents per share, for the three months ended Aug. 31. That compares with a loss of $32.1 million, or $1.02 per share, in the prior-year period.

One-time expenses for cost reduction and restructuring programs totaled 4 cents per share. Stripping this out, Scholastic Corp. reported a loss of 90 cents per share.

Scholastic said Thursday that it typically reports a first-quarter loss, as most U.S. schools are not in session and its school book club and book fair businesses produce minimal revenue.

Total operating costs and expenses fell to $322.2 million from $340.4 million, while interest expense dropped to $1.9 million from $3.7 million.

Revenue slipped 6 percent to $276.3 million from $293.4 million as sales of "The Hunger Games" trilogy continued to drop compared with year-ago levels. This was somewhat offset by factors including the new education technology programs, sales of the 15th anniversary Harry Potter re-release and a new Star Wars book.

Chairman, President and CEO Richard Robinson said in a statement that the New York company anticipates sales of Hunger Games books rising as consumers anticipate the upcoming release of the "Catching Fire" movie.

Scholastic said that its five new education technology programs increased the educations unit's profits by 46 percent and its revenue by 19 percent. This is the company's biggest segment for the quarter.

Scholastic still foresees fiscal 2014 earnings from continuing operations between $1.40 and $1.80 per share, with revenue of about $1.8 billion.