Earnings: Fifth Of WMG Sales Now Digital, But Overall Revenue Still Sinking

imageWarner Music Group (NYSE: WMG) pulled down a whopping $171 million from digital revenue in the three months to December 31 – that’s 2.4 percent more than the prior quarter and 20 percent more than the period a year before.

WMG also swung to a $23 million net profit from a $16 million net loss a year ago, thanks to selling its minority stake in Front Line Management. But none of this is enough to halt the overall decline – quarterly group revenue fell 11.2 percent from a year ago to $878 million, reflecting “the shift in consumption patterns from physical sales to new forms of digital music, as well as the impact of the turbulent global economy on retailers”…

Overall music sales dropping, especially at home: Overall revenue in the important recorded music division fell 11.9 percent from last year’s quarter to $749 million. Within this, whilst overseas income grew 6.1 percent, the picture is worse in the US, where domestic music revenue slumped 21.3 percent to $315 million, “due to continued contracting demand for physical product by retailers primarily in the US.”

Digital growing: Digital music sales contributed 18.2 percent more than last year to the recorded music division at $156 million, now making up 20.8 percent of the division’s income. Within this, domestic, US digital sales came in at $99 million, now making up 31.4 percent of the division’s income. WMG said all this “was driven by global online downloads as well as mobile”.

All in all, digital now makes up 19 percent of total WMG revenue, up two percent from the previous quarter, and the company has $549 million free cashflow. No mention of WMG pulling tracks from YouTube or Last.fm. WMG says it’s focused on diversifying in to 360-degree music business areas, but complained it’s tough to compare this year with last, which was flattered by strong sales for Josh Grogan’s Noel release; this year’s successes will be “back-ended” later in the year, it said.

Results | Webcast | Transcript (via Seeking Alpha)