First Quarter 2013 Results
During the first quarter of 2013, the Company traveled 572 delegates, compared to 747 delegates during the prior year quarter. The decrease in delegate count is primarily due to the timing of the Company's Student Leadership Programs in 2013 compared to 2012, partially offset by the Presidential Inauguration Program that traveled in January 2013. In spite of the lower delegate count, total revenue increased 17 percent year-over-year to $2.9 million in the first quarter of 2013 compared to $2.5 million during the prior year quarter. This reflects increased contribution from higher price-point programs.
Gross margin for the quarter was $1.4 million, in line with the first quarter of 2012. Gross margin percentage decreased to 48.1 percent from 52.4 percent in the prior year period, primarily due to a lower mix of revenue from BookRags, the Company's online education research business. Gross margin is calculated as the sum of gross revenue non-directly delivered programs, gross revenue directly delivered programs and internet content and advertising revenue less cost of sales non-directly delivered programs, costs of sales directly delivered programs and cost of sales internet content and advertising.
First quarter operating expenses were $14.2 million compared to $12.9 million in the prior year period. The first quarter of 2013 included net expenses for certain special items totaling $2.2 million, more fully described in a table to this release and primarily related to separation payments and expenses for two former executives. The first quarter of 2012 also included expenses for certain special items, totaling $0.7 million. Excluding the special items, first quarter operating expenses would have been $12.0 million compared to $12.2 million in the prior year period, reflecting planned cost reductions to protect profitability, partially offset by increased expenditures related to the enhancement of the Company's year-round marketing approach.
Net loss for the first quarter of 2013 was $8.1 million, or $0.47 per diluted share, compared to a net loss of $7.9 million, or $0.45 per diluted share, in the prior year period. Excluding the special items, net loss for the quarter would have been $6.7 million compared to $7.4 million, an improvement of $0.7 million.