'Twilight' soundtrack, Nickelback performed

NEW YORK — Warner Music Group reported some encouraging results Thursday despite ongoing unrest in the music biz.

Edgar Bronfman’s company posted a $23 million net profit in the fiscal first quarter that ended Dec. 31 compared with a $16 million loss in the year-earlier period. Total revenue declined 11% to $878 million, but digital revenue soared 20% to $171 million and now comprises 19% of total revenue.

The profit figure includes a gain of $35 million related to the sale of a stake in Frontline Management to Ticketmaster.

Top sellers during the quarter included the “Twilight” soundtrack and new albums from Nickelback, Enya, Seal, T.I. and Johnny Hallyday. None came close to the 4 million-unit smash of the prior-year quarter, Josh Groban’s “Noel,” which was the No. 1 release of 2007 by any distrib.

The angst-ridden retail environment over recent months has accelerated consumers’ movement away from packaged music and toward digital downloads. Some major retailers, including Circuit City and Woolworths in the U.K., have gone bankrupt while others are closing stores.

Due to those market conditions and tough comparisons, domestic revenue fell 19%, with international revenue slipping just 5%.

The company’s beleaguered shares closed up 23.9% at $2.49 Thursday.

Execs noted that Warner Music had $549 million in cash on its books as of Dec. 30 vs. $160 million a year earlier.

In addition, Warner Music’s Atlantic Records Group has upped Julie Greenwald to chair and chief operating officer. Her focus has been management strategies and marketing.

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