John Wiley & Sons, Inc. ( JW.A)

F2Q2012 Earnings Call

December 8, 2011 10:00 a.m. ET

Executives

Steve Smith - President and Chief Executive Officer

Ellis Cousens - Executive Vice President, Chief Financial and Operations Officer

Analysts

Drew Crum - Stifel Nicolaus

Torin Eastburn - CJS Securities

Dave Lewis - JPMorgan

William Packer - Exane BNP Paribas

Michael Corty - Morningstar

Presentation

Operator

Good morning and welcome to the John Wiley & Sons quarterly earnings call. Before introducing Steve Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer, I would like to remind you this call is being recorded and may include forward-looking statements. You should not rely on such statements as actual results may differ materially and are subject to factors that are discussed in detail in the company's 10-K and 10-Q filings with the SEC. The company does not undertake any obligations to update or revise forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances.

I will now go ahead and turn the call over to Mr. Steve Smith, please go ahead.

Steve Smith

Good morning. Thank you for participating in Wiley's fiscal year 2012 second quarter investor conference call. I’m with Ellis Cousens, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Operations Officer; and Brian Campbell, Director of Investor Relations.

I will take a few moments to provide an overview of Wiley’s performance in the second quarter, and we will then respond to your questions and comments. In a difficult global economy, Wiley achieved revenue growth of 1% in the second quarter, but declined slightly excluding the positive effect of foreign exchange. Currency adjusted revenue growth of 1% in STMS, it was offset by decline of 2% of P/T and 1% for global education.

EPS of $0.83 decrease by $0.05 both including and excluding the effects of foreign exchange. Lower revenues and higher technology and facilities and costs were partially mitigated by improved gross margin and lower interest expense. For the six months, revenue of $877 million was flat on a currency neutral basis but grew 3% including the positive foreign exchange impact. Adjusted EPS for the six months fell 2% to $1.51, excluding favorable foreign exchange adjusted EPS fell 6%, reflecting the top line results and higher technology and facility costs.

Year-to-date gross profit as a percentage of revenue was 70.1%, 1.3% ahead of the prior year figure of 68.8% due to increased digital product sales, product mix and timing. Year-to-date shared services and administrative costs of $194 million were up 10% due to ongoing investments in digital products and infrastructure and increased facility costs related to the consolidation of operations and the doubling up of occupancy costs during the payout period as we move to new premises in Singapore, San Francisco and the UK.

Free cash flow for the first six months was a use of $88 million. $63 million greater than the prior year. Lower cash earnings as a result of the timing of subscription cash collections, higher non-cash subscription revenue and higher capital spending on technology were the major driver of the higher cash usage. Subscription cash collection delays relate to the timing of 2012 subscription renewal negotiations and are expected to recover in the third and fourth quarters.

Net debt was $428 million at the end of the quarter, down from $545 million a year earlier. During the quarter, Wiley repurchased 600,000 shares at a cost of $28 million. Now I would like to provide some information regarding performance of Wiley’s global businesses. STMS second quarter revenue of $251 million increased by 3% or 1% excluding the favorable effect of foreign exchange. Currency neutral journals revenue grew by 1.5% over prior year, reflecting solid underlying calendar year 2011 subscription and reprint sales growth. Partially offset by lower backfile sales and the adverse impact from the timing of issue publication.

Journal subscription revenue grew by 1.8% in the quarter and is up 3% year-to-date. The lower growth rate in the second quarter reflects the adverse impact of publication timing versus the second quarter of fiscal year 2011. It is still early in the calendar year 2012 journal subscription renewal process. And we are working closely with our customers on a large number of significant -- we have successfully negotiated approximately one third of our full year forecast subscription and license revenues which is ahead of where we were at this time last year. And early indications are that our growth rates will be similar to those experienced in calendar year 2011.

Cash collection typically follows licensing and invoicing by around 30 days. As a result of the expected timing of collections noted with respect to the second quarter, to be the cleared by the end of the third quarter. We have completed negotiations with members of several large consortia customers, such as JUSTICE, the Japan National and Private University consortium; the NESLI consortium in the U.K., the (inaudible) consortium in France, ANKOS in Turkey, the Bavarian consortium in Germany, the Statewide California Electronic Library consortium, Georgia University System consortium, among many others. In aggregate, the value of these licenses is growing in line with our expectations.

The STMS book business was down by 4% against prior year on a currency neutral basis, reflecting tight library budgets. Direct contribution to profit for the quarter of $107 million was 4% ahead of prior year or 2% ahead on a currency neutral basis. For the six months, STMS revenue increase 1.9% on a currency neutral basis to $504 million reflecting solid journal subscription income growth, growth in backfiles and corporate sales offset by a 6% decline in book sales. Excluding the impact of a large one-time sale to Saudi Arabia in the first quarter of the prior year, STMS book sales are flat with prior year.

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