WMG avoids Q4 blues with surprise profit

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Warner Music Group reported better-than-expected fiscal fourth-quarter results Tuesday, and management believes that the company can outperform peers amid worsening sales trends.

Chairman and CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. lauded the music business for having been "relatively resilient in previous (economic) downturns" but said he couldn't promise things would stay that way in the current economy.

Asked what drives the renewed weakness in music retail, Bronfman suggested it "is not really due to a reduction in floor space but lower traffic in the stores." He added that WMG is "happy with our product and the results of our product."

CFO Steve Macri, though, renewed a warning that WMG's new fiscal year will be backend-loaded. "The volatile global economy and timing of our release schedule may result in backend-weighted fiscal 2009 results," he said.

Bronfman also said that all of WMG's planned holiday season product is or will be out as planned.

WMG reported a quarterly profit of $5 million, up 20% from the year-ago quarter. Wall Street analysts had expected a loss. Revenue declined 1% to $854 million.

Major sellers in the quarter included albums from Metallica, Kid Rock and T.I. (partialdiff)
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