Sluggish Growth in Magazine Publishing; Magazines Trail in Assets, Revenue Growth, Says Veronis, Suhler Report

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Sluggish growth in magazine publishing * New York City--At a 6.3 percent growth rate, magazine publishing ranked last in 1987 annual growth, compared to other communications industries, according to the sixth annual Communications Industry Report from Veronis, Suhler & Associates.

Magazines also grew at a relatively sluggish rate over the past five years, according to the report, which compiles five-year financial statistics on 200 public companies. Out of nine communications fields--including newspaper publishing, radio and television broad-casting, filmed entertainment, business information, book publishing and cable television--consumer and business magazine publishing was seventh in five-year compound growth, with a rate of 10.4 percent.

Magazines also ranked seventh in revenues, according to the report. Total revenues were $5.2 billion for 1987, with consumer magazines accounting for $3.2 billion, and business and professional publications locking up $2 billion.

Growth in assets was slow, as well. Magazine publishing ranked seventh in assets, totaling $3.3 billion in 1987, and growing at a rate of 4.1 percent for the year. The five-year compound annual growth rate, by contrast, was 31.8 percent, with growth averaging 42.6 percent annually between 1983 and 1986.

Asset growth was high in 1985, for example, because of several big acquisitions: Time Inc. buying Southern Progress, News Corp. acquiring Ziff-Davis' business magazines, and CBS purchasing Ziff-Davis' consumer magazines, according to Andrew Hornick, research director at Veronis, Suhler & Associates. And, he says, 1988 is expected to be another year of high asset growth because of the $3 billion purchase of triangle by Murdoch's News Corp.

Notably, magazine publishing in 1987 scored slightly above-average return on assets (ROA) compared to other industry segments: 19. …