Warner Music Quarterly Loss Widens

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The music major posts virtually unchanged quarterly revenue, with CEO Stephen Cooper lauding a recent deal to acquire the venerable Parlophone label.

Warner Music Group on Thursday reported a widened loss for its fiscal first-quarter, but said digital revenue continued to grow strongly.

The music major announced its quarterly loss of $80 million, compared toa loss of $26 million in the year-ago quarter. Revenue declined 1 percent to $769 million, but assuming constant currencies, it rose 0.3 percent. Digital revenue jumped 16 percent to $255 million.

Recorded music revenue was virtually unchanged, while music publishing revenue dropped 4 percent.

Recorded music revenue growth in the U.S., Japan, Latin America and Canada was offset by declines in the U.K., Italy and other parts of Europe. Major sellers included Led Zeppelin, Bruno Mars, Michael Buble and Johnny Hallyday.

The company, led by CEO Stephen Cooper, said that "despite a difficult year-over-year comparison resulting from strong physical sales of Michael Buble’s “Christmas” in the prior-year quarter, the company’s stable revenue results reflect solid digital revenue growth in both recorded music and music publishing, as well as growth in recorded music licensing revenue, offset by a decline in physical sales and non-digital music publishing revenue."

Billionaire Len Blavatnik controls Warner Music.

"We are pleased with the start we’ve had to our fiscal year," said Cooper. "We continue to make progress throughout our organization, while maintaining our focus on long-term artist development, innovation and growth and carefully managing costs."

Discussing, on an earnings conference call, Warner Music's recently announced Parlophone label acquisition in a deal with Universal Music Group, Cooper said it will help the firm's goal of "making us the world's premier music company." He called the deal a "unique opportunity" and said it will be "highly complimentary" creatively, geographically and strategically.

Universal Music obtained Parlophone as part of its acquisition of the EMI recorded music business late last year.

Email: Georg.Szalai@thr.com

Twitter: @georgszalai