One Wiley Publisher

If trade book publisher John Wiley & Sons (NYSE: JWa  ) (NYSE: JWb  ) were an automobile, it would be called a sleeper. A machine that doesn't attract much attention from the outside, but packs a wallop under the hood, leaving unsuspecting show machines eating its dust. Fool readers probably best know the company for its many stock-market-related titles.

In the book business, Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) , Borders Group (NYSE: BGP  ) , and Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS  ) get all the attention from investors. While Borders and Wiley are similarly sized in market capitalization, the latter trades only a tenth of the number of shares per day. But in large part, it's the success of these retailers that has enabled Wiley to put up a compounded annual revenue growth rate of 12% and EPS growth of 22% for the past 10 years. The stock has performed even better with a compounded annual growth rate of more than 25%. And it's been nearly steadily up all the way.

Today, Wiley announced record financial results for the fiscal year 2004 ended April 30. Pro forma earnings, excluding a tax benefit and a charge related to relocating its headquarters to Hoboken, N.J., rose 12% to $85.8 million, or $1.36 per share. Revenue increased 8% to $922.9 million. Actual net income for the year increased a much smaller 2% to $88.8 million, or $1.41 per share. For the fourth quarter, the company reported an increase in revenue of 14% to $232.1 million and a 21% increase in net income to $10.0 million.

The publisher attributed much of its growth to keeping expenses in check and a stronger second half of the year, which included a 16% growth in sales via the retail book market during the fourth quarter. Two titles mentioned as particularly successful were Bull's Eye Investing and the annually published Stock Trader's Almanac, whose co-author, Yale Hirsch, I am proud to count as a friend.

The company didn't provide an outlook, but it's safe to say that book sales increase in an improving economic environment, and the renewed interest in the stock markets is an added plus for this publishing company with a punch.

On the subject of investing books be sure to check out the Fool's many titles as well, including the just-releasedMoney After 40, by David and Tom Gardner.

Fool contributor Mark Mahorney doesn't own shares of any companies mentioned.


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