Warner Music posts flat fourth quarter

Digital revenues climb 16% year-over-year

Warner Music Group saw a slight decline in overall revenue for the quarter ending Dec. 31, the last fiscal period before its recent acquisition of the Parlophone Label Group.

The label group claimed total revenue of $769 million for the quarter, down 0.8% from the year-earlier quarter, a discrepancy the company pinned to the physical success of 2011’s chart-topping Michael Buble Christmas collection. However, digital revenues were up 16%, totaling $255 million and representing 33.2% of total revenue, also an increase.

“We are pleased with the start we’ve had to our fiscal year,” WMG chief exec Stephen Cooper said in a statement. “We continue to make progress throughout our organization while maintaining our focus on long-term artist development.”

Digital gains offset by slumps in physical revenue and nondigital arenas form a consistent pattern. Digital publishing revenue was up 27%, yet publishing overall dipped by 4%. Recorded music revenues were flat despite a 16% digital gain. Synch revenues were down 4.3% due to lower videogame revenue.

Operating income was up 31% to $51 million, while net loss climbed 204% to $80 million, attributable to a loss on the extinguishment of debt in connection with a November debt refinancing.

The label’s major sellers included releases by Bruno Mars, Led Zeppelin, Buble, Johnny Hallyday and a Generation Goldman tribute album.

Come the next quarterly report, WMG’s finances should see major changes, with the company having spent $765 million to purchase Parlophone from Universal Music Group, bringing such artists as Radiohead, Coldplay, Kylie Minogue, Gorillaz and David Guetta into the fold.

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