NEWS27 January 2010

Harris in the black: firm reports first quarterly profit in 21 months

Financials North America

US— Harris Interactive has reported being in the black for the three months ended 31 December – marking its first quarterly profit in 21 months.

Earnings were slim – operating income for the quarter was $600,000 while net income was $1.3m – however the figures compare very favourably to what was reported a year ago: an operating loss of $45.9m and a net loss of $65.6m.

Revenue for the second quarter of fiscal 2010 was down year-on-year by 12% to $44.6m, though interim CFO Eric Narowski noted that “the rate of decline has slowed significantly from what we’ve seen in recent quarters”. Sales were up 15% sequentially from fiscal Q1.

Chief executive Kimberly Till said: “The results for our second quarter demonstrate that we are making progress on improving the strategic and financial performance of the company, as evidenced by our return to profitability for the first time in seven quarters.”

Till seemed particularly cheered by a year-on-year rise in consolidated global bookings, which were up 10% to $53.2m. By region, North American bookings were up 9%, while bookings in Europe were up 20%.

However, Asia bookings were down 50%. Narowski acknowledged that the business was under-performing in the region, but with Europe MD Robert Salvoni now also in charge of Asia, he said the firm was “confident that performance will improve during the second half of this fiscal year”.

Till said: “Asia currently represents a relatively small percentage of our overall business but it is a strategically important region for us. We have commenced exploratory steps to acquire a licence to operate a business in China and are developing plans to introduce research methodologies in China that generally are not being utilised there.”