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Scholastic Corp (SCHL) Q4 2020 Earnings Call Transcript

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SCHL earnings call for the period ending June 30, 2020.

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Scholastic Corp (SCHL 0.01%)
Q4 2020 Earnings Call
Jul 23, 2020, 4:30 p.m. ET


  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:


Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by, and welcome to the Scholastic Reports Q4 2020 Results Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] After the speakers' presentation, there will be a question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions]

I would now like to hand the conference over to your speaker today, Gil Dickoff, Senior Vice President and Treasurer. Please go ahead, sir.

Gil Dickoff -- Senior Vice President, Treasurer and Head of Investor Relations

Thank you so much, Joel and good afternoon. I trust everyone has successfully steering clear of harm's way and we welcome you to Scholastic's fourth quarter and fiscal 2020 earnings call. Joining me today are Dick Robinson, our Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer; and Ken Cleary, the company's Chief Financial Officer. We have posted an investor presentation on our IR website at, which we encourage you to download if you haven't already done so.

I would also like to point out that certain statements made today will be forward-looking. Such forward-looking statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties, including those arising from the continuing impact of COVID-19 on the company's business operations. These forward-looking statements by their nature are uncertain and actual results may differ materially from those currently anticipated.

In addition, we will be discussing some non-GAAP financial measures as defined in Regulation G, and the reconciliations of those measures to the most directly comparable GAAP measures can be found in the company's earnings release filed this afternoon on Form 8-K, which has also been posted to our Investor Relations website. We encourage you to review the disclaimers in our press release and investor presentation and to review the risk factors contained in our annual and quarterly reports filed with the SEC.

And now I would like to turn the call over to Dick Robinson.

Richard Robinson -- Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you all for joining our call today. In a quarter, when schools and families across the globe were dealing with both the pandemic and a massive economic slowdown, we showed the resilience that is defined our company since our founding 100 years ago. Amidst the challenges from the impact of the coronavirus, including school closures in the US and globally, Scholastic demonstrated our value to our school, teacher, parent and child customers while also taking substantial action to offset the impact of the pandemic on our operating income and cash flow. This disruption coincided with our significant fourth quarter a period when the company typically records the majority of our earnings and cash flow for the year.

In response, for all of our school facing businesses, we have transitioned Scholastic to a more flexible model, redesigning clubs and fairs, as well as increasing our focus on digital solutions and education. We also established a rigorous cost reduction program with specific company and divisional targets, aimed at $100 million of savings in fiscal 2021 through reducing labor costs and improving processes. This program will enable us to preserve profitability and to ramp as demand increases. While reducing costs, we also focused on a more streamlined Book Fair business simplifying fairs to adjust to the changed school environment. We also took cost out of our Book Club process, while improving online ordering.

We expanded digital solutions and education deepening our connection with parents and children through Scholastic learn at home. We answered the need for high quality books to read at home with our engaging trade offerings and schools are also asking for more independent -- for more digital curriculum, which we offered through our digital subscription programs for independent reading, foundational phonics and vocabulary. As we look ahead, including and continued impact of COVID-19 in the fall and beyond, it's important to understand the Scholastic remains a well-capitalized company with a strong balance sheet and net cash position, which we enhanced over the past few months.

We are confident, we have the right plan in place to help teachers, parents and children thrive in a challenging situation that will impact schools and our customers for some time. We are prepared to support schools and families as they grapple with the complex matter reopening schools in a COVID safeway. Continuing remote learning or implementing various combinations of these models, all of which will need to be adjusted based on involving local mandates and current infection rates locally. Given our position as partner to schools, Scholastic is known for our ability to adapt quickly to provide new ways of helping teachers, schools and parents in the new circumstances of collaboration between families and schools in support of learning at both school and home.

In fiscal 2020, our overall business performed well and ahead of our plan in the first-three quarters of the fiscal year. However, the overall effective COVID-19 here and abroad in the fourth quarter cause substantial declines in our full year revenue and led to this year's operating loss. In the fourth quarter with almost every school, which is 120,000 of them closed across the US between March and May. There was a corresponding to steep decline in the number of school-based Book Fair events and Book Club sales leading to of a $151.7 million reduction in revenue in those school distribution channels in the fourth quarter.

As noted, we also saw a real bright spots with trade publishing and performing well throughout the fiscal 2020 and in the fourth quarter. Domestic trade sales increased $25 million or 45% in the fourth quarter versus the prior year period. Even as industry book store sales declined as a result of brick and mortar store closures in the fourth quarter. We had strong sales of favorite series like The Hunger Games, Dog Man, Bad Guys, then Wings of Fire. Our digital connections with parents, teachers and students are stronger than ever and we have received significant positive feedback on the high quality of our digital education resources, such as our new virtual Scholastic learn at home hub.

This site was an instant success and accumulating nearly 80 million page views from April to June. And we tradition to learn at home hub to a paid subscription model as of July 1, so families can continue to use its resources year round. Kids report that the programs are fun and easy to use, and parents are impressed with how much learning children derived from this engaging program. At the same time, our Book Fairs team worked diligently to provide flexible streamline solutions to meet the differing needs of individual school return scenarios, including enhanced virtual fairs with the leadership of new President of Scholastic Book Fairs who started on January 1, but we redesigned our Book Fairs Group to become a more nimble and efficient organization focused on making deeper, valuable connections within schools.

Book Clubs pivoted to redirect book shipments from schools to teachers homes, and meanwhile, our Education division adopted their take home book model to support districts and states by making high quality books and family resources available to children in need of during the school closure, most notably 185,000 kids receiving books at home from the State of Connecticut during the close down of schools. When -- Ken reviews our financials in a few moments, he will also review in detail the significant actions we took to curtail operational and capital expenditures in order to mitigate the impact of the School closures. While we are also working proactively with families and schools to support them through this period of disruption.

In short we froze non-essential spending reduced inventory purchases temporarily closed warehouses and distribution centers and highly impacted regions and implemented difficult but necessary staffing measures including work -- reduced work weeks, furloughs and job eliminations. We also took approximately [Technical Issues] in net in non-cash charges as a result of COVID-19 including higher inventory obsolescence [Phonetic] reserves, higher customer bad debt by return reserves, higher [Indecipherable] and higher vacation accruals. In addition, we also recognize the one-time severance charge of $13.1 million in the year in connection with ongoing restructuring and staffing decisions made in response to the impact of COVID-19.

Excluding one-time items, we recorded an operating loss of $32.3 million in fiscal year 2020 versus operating income positive of $41 million in fiscal year 2019. We also suspended our stock buyback program and had negligible cash burn in the fourth quarter. Out of an abundance of caution, we drew down $200 million on our revolver and the funds were placed and liquid investments and remain unused at this time. We close the fiscal year with over $175 million in net cash on the balance sheet and a strong equity base of $1.2 billion.

I want to reiterate that our more capital-light model requires very low levels of maintenance capital expenditures. Therefore, we can flex our discretionary capital expenditures as needed during the year. This is not the first time in our 100-year history that Scholastic has faced significant challenges in each time, we have emerged stronger and more resilient. While the scope of this pandemic is unprecedented, we responded swiftly and with purpose. Across the company, our people rose to the occasion to meet the needs of teachers, parents and children as the focus shifted abruptly from schools to home in the fourth quarter. And I'm proud of -- I'm extremely proud of the dedication of our Scholastic staff during this period of professional and personal disruption.

As we look at fiscal 2021, we are anticipating a slower start to the year for a school distribution channels. We currently expect most schools to be in session, but following different instruction models from district-to-district with some schools returning to in-person learning, others continuing distance learning, and others operating in a hybrid model. Experts agree that in person learning is the most effective, especially for younger children, but we also all appreciate the need to ensure that our learning environments are safe for our children and for our communities. Each district is therefore planning for various contingencies that that take into account potential changes infection rates in their local areas.

The number of schools planning to open on a remote virtual only basis is a small but growing minority based mostly in bigger districts where infection rates are increasing. As of now the large majority of schools have reported that they will have some form of in-person classroom instruction with some planning to open five days a week and others opening in a hybrid manner. Given the plan social distancing measures we expect that there will be less extra space in schools given the need for more classroom space, more limited access to visitors and some restrictions on events on school premises and plans for students to stay clustered and pause during school day.

We are coordinating with schools to provide events that fit their reopening modes and then make the best use of their available space. The sizable majority of schools that decided not to hold in person fairs in August have either converted to a virtual fair or rescheduled for later in the school year and with our more flexible model, we can meet the needs of each school in each district and scale our operations up or down based on demand. We also expect the capacity and event restrictions at book brick and mortar bookstores to continue, which could impact trade sales.

Our trade performance has been strong and we're confident in our pipeline, but our planning our launches knowing that circumstances for our retail partners may change of infection rates change. These factors make it difficult to accurately predict the continuing impact of COVID-19 on our business and operations, especially our book clubs and book fairs in fiscal 2021. Therefore we will not be providing of fiscal year 2021 outlook at this time. I do think it is important to share the steps that we're taking to ensure that our operations and our product offerings are COVID ready in fiscal 2021. First, we are adjusting our offerings to ensure safe and easy events.

Our Book Fairs group is rising to the challenge of being able to provide simplified, safe and easy, and essential book fairs that incorporate capacity restrictions, social distancing measures, increased health and safety protocols and further address resource limitations in the school. We are closely following the developments regarding reopening plans for schools and are ready with flexible fairs that are in strict compliance with all local health and safety requirements and best practices, which -- and will meet the needs of individual school.

For schools that remain closed, we can provide enhanced virtual fairs and community engagement solutions to connect children to the books they love and help schools raise the resources needed now more than ever for fundraising. We are also encouraged -- encouraging teachers and parents to continue to order books online through our clubs ordering platform, which is another safe and easy way to get books directly to kids and should also help the migration of customers to our efficient digital platform.

Next, we are meeting the pent-up demand for high-quality books and educational materials as schools contend with the COVID slide. A recent study by NWEA projected that students who lack study instruction during the school shutdowns might return this fall having retained only 70% and that would be lucky of their annual reading gains compared to a normal year. This compounds the reading skill loss known the summer slide experienced by many school-age kids. The need for affordable high quality books will be greater than ever as schools and families helped their children regain academic momentum this fall.

Scholastic is well positioned as a partner and resource in this effort through our school channels, creating access to affordable books and the opportunity for kids to connect emotionally to the characters and stories, that is so meaningful to them. The one thing we hear from all schools and teachers and parents is the social emotional impact of reading and of our book programs. Ore Book Clubs are particularly good solution for getting books into the hands of children and school and at home and Scholastic Magazines also provide digital solutions, which can be used at home.

We're also continuing to fine-tune our digital offerings and virtual Scholastic learn at home hub. We are well positioned to support schools and families with that home learning programs, supplement in school curriculum. Our formats have the flexibility to fit with the various schedules and classroom models, which may emerge with the fall, because of the COVID remote learning experience there is now a greater focus on digital learning whether schools are open or remote and we have a number of digital subscription programs that are in demand, including LitPro for K to 8 [Phonetic] independent reading, first for K-2 foundational phonics and word vocabulary in elementary school.

School districts, including Los Angeles are buying these programs and making them available to children for home used for summer school, after school and periods when school buildings may be close. We are seeing a rapid increase in interest from schools to buy digital programs for at home and inschool learning. Finally, we have an exciting trade publishing pipeline, we expect continued strong performance from trade in the coming year, thanks, to highly anticipated releases of momentum from the May release of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, the much-anticipated fourth book in the Hunger Game series.

And as you know, Ballad was an instant number one best-seller around the globe and continues to top best sellers list with more than 1 million English language copies sold in the two months since publication. We expect continued strong performance from this book, fueled by a new Hunger Games box set that will be released for the holiday season. In addition to strong backlist sales of Ballad and Harry Potter, we look forward to Dav Pilkey's latest instalment in the Dog Man series with the release of Grime and Punishment to Dog Man number 9 in September and Cat Kid comic club and all new graphic novel series from Dav in December.

The enduring popular of Dav Pilkey and his characters was evident to spring as millions of young readers logged onto to the Dav Pilkey at own video series to enjoy his drawing demonstrations, read alouds and other activities chosen by Dav to engage his fans as they sheltered in place. This will also brings the release of The Ickabog, the new fairy tale from JK Rowling and her first book for children in 13 years. Our youngest readers will be delighted to meet the newest members of the Wonky Donkey from family when Grinny Granny Donkey launches this November. This third title written by Craig Smith and illustrated by Katz Cowley joins last fall's Stinky Donkey and the original viral sensation Wonky Donkey which now has over 4 million copies in print.

We expect an enthusiastic reception to -- to the publication of two new Baby-Sitters Club releases, Logan Likes Mary Anne! Baby-Sitters Club number eight and Karen's Roller Skates, Baby-Sitters Little Sister Number 2. The franchise is hotter than ever, thanks to the July 3 premier of the Netflix streaming series based on the Baby-Sitters Club books. We look forward to the November release of the latest Bad Guys title Dawn of the Underlord, Bad Guys Number 11 and new titles for best selling authors, including Tui T. Sutherland, Alan Gratz, Kelly Yang and Varian Johnson. Finally, we are excited to welcome debut talent Leah Johnson whose YA novel, You Should See Me in a Crown was published in June and is already exceeding expectations.

In summary, while the impact of COVID-19 has been significant for sure our curtailment actions have helped to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on our business and we are executing a targeted plan to reduce $100 million in costs in fiscal 2021. Our business is well capitalized and we have never been more confident in our iconic brands, our strong partnerships with educators and families across the US and around the world and our ability to provide the books that kids need for education and entertainment. Scholastic is about to go back to school for the 100th time since our first publication was launched in October, 1920. For all those years teachers and schools and parents have looked to Scholastic to help them engage children in reading and learning. Facing the difficulties of this year's return to school, Scholastic's help has never been more necessary than it is right now.

With that I'd like to turn the call over to Ken Cleary.

Kenneth J. Cleary -- Chief Financial Officer

Thank you, Dick and good afternoon. Revenues in the important fourth quarter fell by $186.7 million or 40% versus the prior year period, with revenues from clubs and fairs declining $151.7 million as a result of the decrease in school-based Book Clubs and Book Fairs events. Fiscal 2020 revenues declined 10% versus last year to $1.49 billion, also driven by decreased revenues from Clubs and Fairs. School closings also had an adverse impact on our international school channels and education business. As Dick mentioned, we ended the year with strong global trade publishing sales, driven by solid front list including The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

Domestic trade sales increased $25 million or 45% in the fourth quarter and $56.5 million or 20% for the full year. This result was significant given that industry wide book store sales declined as a result of brick and mortar store closures in the fourth quarter. Excluding one-time items for both periods, operating loss for the fourth quarter was $39.4 million versus income of $40.1 million in Q4 of last year. For fiscal year 2020, operating loss, excluding one-time items was $32.3 million versus operating income of $41 million in fiscal 2019.

Adjusted EBITDA for the fourth quarter was a loss of $17.3 million, compared to $61.2 million last year. While adjusted EBITDA for fiscal 2020 was $56.6 million, compared to $121.3 million in fiscal 2019. These declines are directly attributable to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Fourth quarter loss per diluted share was $0.38 compared to earnings of $0.50 in 2019. Excluding one-time items, fourth quarter loss per diluted share was $0.23 in 2020 versus earnings of $0.84 in 2019. Loss per diluted share for the year was $1.27 compared to earnings of $0.43 last year. Excluding one-time items, loss per diluted share for the year was $0.08 versus earnings of $0.92 last year.

Turning now to cash, in fiscal 2020, net cash provided by operating activities was $2.1 million compared to $116.4 million in fiscal 2019. Free cash use was $89.1 million in the current fiscal year compared to a free cash use of $12.4 million in fiscal 2019. During the fourth quarter, we accessed our $375 million committed bank credit facility as a precautionary measure. We took a US dollar LIBOR-based advance for $200 million, which was placed in liquid investments and remains unused at this time. We distributed $20.8 million in dividends during the year and bought back $35.5 million of common stock over the fiscal year through March. As a reminder, we put our open-market share buyback program on hold in early March. We ended the fiscal year with a strong balance sheet and over $175 million in net cash.

Working capital management and access to liquidity remains strong. Our ongoing cost reduction programs have lowered our vendor payables as of year-end, while we have substantial trade receivables as a result of the strong sales of Ballad. Low payables and higher trade channel receivables will benefit our cash position in the first half of fiscal 2021. We will have significantly lower inventory purchases in fiscal 2021 as we repurpose inventory previously procured and implement new procurement procedures. We have $175 million available under our existing credit facility, in addition to the $393 million of cash and cash equivalents on hand as of year-end.

Fiscal year-end, we had ample room under the two financial maintenance covenants contained in the credit agreement notably, debt to total capital and interest coverage. As a result of the measures we've taken and our typical seasonality, we are not expecting pressure on our net cash position in the first quarter. We will continue to assess funding needs in the context of evolving information on COVID-19, reopening plans and banking market conditions.

Now turning to our segments, where I'll review drivers of our fourth quarter results. For fiscal year results are detailed in our tables in our SEC filings. In Children's Book Publishing and Distribution, fourth quarter revenue declined 49% to $132 million. Book Clubs revenue fell 59%, while Book Fairs revenue fell 79% versus the comparable periods in the prior fiscal year. [Indecipherable] trade revenues grew 45% in the fourth quarter versus the prior year period highlight by the strong sales of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

Our Klutz line of book plus activity kits such as LEGO Chain Reactions and LEGO gadgets also performed well in the fourth quarter as they provide fund into our activities to help children practice STEAM skills and remote learning environment. While brick and mortar stores remain closed, sales timeline retailers were strong. Fourth quarter operating loss was $46.5 million versus operating income of $18.2 million in 2019 quarter.

In education, sales in the important fiscal fourth quarter declined 20% to $94.7 million versus the prior year period. Education results were impacted by over 124,000 pandemic related public and private school closings in US. However in the fourth quarter, our Teaching Resources Jumbo Workbooks and Summer Express series performed well. These programs of skill building activities for students learning from home. Fourth quarter operating income was $27.3 million versus operating income of $36.9 million in the 2019 quarter. In our international segment, fourth quarter revenues were down 39% to $57.3 million. We had lower sales in Clubs and Fairs in our major markets, direct to consumer selling operations throughout Asia and our education business in China. All due to actions taken are curtile the spread of the coronavirus in the last fourth months of the fiscal year.

In the fourth quarter, international had an operating loss of $9.1 million versus income of $6.8 million in the 2019 quarter, excluding one-time items in both periods. Corporate overhead expense, excluding one-time items was $11.1 million in the fourth quarter, which declined by 49% as a result of lower technology related spending and cost savings actions taken in the quarter. Over the fourth quarter, we took action to safe our employees and revised processes and protocols to ensure that we can effectively and safely execute critical business functions during the crisis without adversely impacting productivity. Across functional task force is continuing to closely track school reopening plans for the fall and district by district basis as well as the coronavirus related disruptions to our supply chain.

We have the data analytics and capabilities, projects and quickly enabling us to react to rapidly changing market conditions. We also accelerated our work to transition to a more efficient flexible model and reduce our cost base in response to lower anticipated revenues. We eliminate all non-essential business costs and deferred spending on certain long term projects in order to preserve cash in the near term. Reduced our inventory purchases and fixed administrative cost to preserve cash and focused any necessary expenditures on crisis specific customer needs such as at home learning materials and ensuring adequate access to capital. We had to make some tough but necessary staffing decisions including reduced workweeks, furloughs and job eliminations in response to the school and store closings.

In fiscal 2021, we initiated a program targeted to achieve $100 million in cost savings including both labor and non-labor costs and process improvements and are using specially created liquid dashboards and trackers to identify monitor the realization of savings and the sustainability of those savings. This plan will enable us to function at a higher operating leverage and scale our resources in response to increasing or decreasing revenues. As a result of the COVID-19 sales decline, we recognized approximately $19 million in non-cash charges in the fourth quarter. This includes increases in inventory obsolescence reserves, return reserves and unknown author advances because some author advances did not turn out -- did not for earn out due to the sales decline. We increased reserves for customer bad debts, but some customers rescheduled payments or could not pay us on time. However, our biggest customers are paying us, and we have not had significant issues with collections. Because most employees were unable to travel, we also had higher vacation accruals.

In June, just to after the fiscal year-end, we sold our underutilized Danbury, Connecticut facility for approximately $13 million, because we have relatively low maintenance capital expenditure requirements, we're going to adjust our discretionary capital expenditures as needed based on school and market conditions. The strong working capital management practices and additional levers to pull to preserve profitability and cash flows, as we approach the second quarter depending on how schools are operating. We are closely coordinating our activities with our customers as they plan their openings and can adjust our offering to fit the needs and requirements of each district.

With that, I'll hand the call back to Gil for the Q&A session.

Gil Dickoff -- Senior Vice President, Treasurer and Head of Investor Relations

Thank you, Ken. Joel, we are now ready to open the lines for questions.

Questions and Answers:


Thank you. [Operator Instructions] Our first question comes from Drew Crum with Stifel. Your line is now open.

Drew Crum -- Stifel -- Analyst

Okay. Thanks. Hey, guys. Good afternoon. So in the press release, I know you're not giving formal guidance at this point, but there is a comment about expectations for fiscal '21 sales to be slightly lower than fiscal '20 offset by the planned cost reductions. Can we assume based on that, that adjusted EBITDA that you reported for fiscal '20 is about $57 million, should improve in fiscal '21? And what are your expectations for free cash flow, should it be positive in this fiscal year?

Richard Robinson -- Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer

Let me answer this and then turn it over to Ken also, Drew. Yes, we believe our sales will be just a little bit lower than sales recorded for the full 2020 year. You remember that we discuss that at our call in March. And we believe that the -- because of the slow return to schools and the adjustments that the fall will probably be a little less strong, but that make it up in the second part of the year. We have focused on a cost reduction plan, that is really key to our goal of profitability and cash flow for this coming year and what we believe will be an increase in EBITDA, but I'll let Ken talk about that.

Kenneth J. Cleary -- Chief Financial Officer

Hey, Drew. So I hope you're well by the way. Yeah. So we do have a major cost reduction program in place right now, as Dick mentioned, a $100 million or so. Should revenues end up being as we thought slightly lower than last year. Then I would expect to see an improvement certainly in EBITDA. I think the more important thought around this is that we're capable of reacting to a landscape that seems to be changing fairly regularly, if you just watch the news on school openings. So we are really prepared to meet whatever revenues we can get and scale our costs accordingly, up or down. And that's really our objective at this point in time. It's as much a continuum in terms of our management practices right now to be able to adapt to what we see on the horizon. So, yeah, if revenues are as we expect, then I would expect an improvement in EBITDA.

Drew Crum -- Stifel -- Analyst

Okay. And Ken any thoughts on free cash flow?

Richard Robinson -- Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer

Go ahead, Ken. Yeah.

Kenneth J. Cleary -- Chief Financial Officer

Yeah, I don't want to guide too much on free cash flow, but we were just based upon our EBITDA and where we know our reductions in cash spending are, as well as our working capital management, free cash flow would be better, it does a crossover into the positive range at this point in time. I'm not ready to go there.

Drew Crum -- Stifel -- Analyst


Kenneth J. Cleary -- Chief Financial Officer

Let, Drew, I'm not ready. I don't want to comment. I really...

Drew Crum -- Stifel -- Analyst


Richard Robinson -- Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer

Drew. Just to follow up a little bit, I mean it was clear that we are, with revenue down dramatically in the fourth quarter that we had to prepare for reduced revenue picture for the coming year. We immediately set on -- upon looking at all of our costs, and reducing those costs. We have a very structured cost management program with trackers as Ken referred to in his talk, and we are really -- our whole strategy is revenues down a little bit, reduce cost by $100 million and we will turn the company around.

Drew Crum -- Stifel -- Analyst

Okay. That's helpful.

Richard Robinson -- Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer

We can't predict the revenue with the uncertain school openings this fall.

Drew Crum -- Stifel -- Analyst

Okay. I will note that are sales related question, and not looking for specific numbers, but the trade pipeline that you guys discussed looks quite strong. You're going to be lapping a tough comparison, but it looks like you've got a number of new initiatives planned for fiscal '21. How are you thinking about growth for that business, in light of some of the bricks and mortars store closures or potential for more store closures during your fiscal period?

Richard Robinson -- Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. I think the trade is just had a spectacular year increasing 20% and 45% in the fourth quarter of course the fourth quarter was helped by the valid wonderful performance of the Suzanne Collins fourth book in The Hunger Game series. But the whole trade business is strong through -- every category is clicking and working. Dav Pilkey's is very, very strong. We have lots of wonderful new authors. We're winning a lot of auctions for new titles. So -- and we've expanded our revenues considerably over the past 24 months as you undoubtedly know.

So we feel that business is moving ahead. We will continue to grow. It's supported by our entertainment arm, which is producing television and movies, including that -- the upcoming Clifford movie, which was -- we're still thinking will have happen sometime this fall, but that is uncertain as this is [Indecipherable] movie distribution but the -- what's going on in that business, with the integration with the media also is just very, very strong and we're looking forward to continued strong performance and the children's area has been growing more than the industry for sure. Not too worried about all the book store closures because we -- I think there'll be as many this coming year. I'm sure and I believe also that, that we are obviously offset that with our performance in the fourth quarter with the direct to the home sales and an excellent mass market sales.

Drew Crum -- Stifel -- Analyst

Okay. I have a couple of more specific questions on trade. Can you just comment on your channel inventory for the business. Is there another print run plan for the Hunger Games book in fiscal '21 and as it relates to the JK Rowling book what publishing rights will Scholastic have?

Richard Robinson -- Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer

Well, the JK, the new Ickabog book we continue to have North American rights to that book.

Drew Crum -- Stifel -- Analyst

Okay. That's print-only, Dick.

Richard Robinson -- Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer

Yes, that's print-only. She continues to retain the -- will be offering an e-book version, however. Yes.

Drew Crum -- Stifel -- Analyst


Richard Robinson -- Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer

No, it's not a fact that we do have an e-book version, which we're selling. Yeah.

Drew Crum -- Stifel -- Analyst

Okay. And then another -- is there another print run plan for the Hunger Games book and any commentary on channel inventory as we entered the fiscal year?

Richard Robinson -- Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer

Well, we printed a good number and we sold most of them. So we're not holding on to a lot of inventory, but we -- there is still some out there and we -- but we're seeing a very, very good sales rate on that title list holding up extremely well.

Drew Crum -- Stifel -- Analyst

Okay. All right. And then, I guess separately or shifting gears understanding your cash flow is seasonal on your typically in a use of cash mode during the fiscal first quarter. Are you anticipating having to access the $200 million advance that you referenced?

Richard Robinson -- Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer

Ken, you want to handle that one.

Kenneth J. Cleary -- Chief Financial Officer

At this point in time Drew no.

Drew Crum -- Stifel -- Analyst

No. Okay, all right. Very good. Just one last question, just on clubs and fairs any impact or can you talk about the impact of profitability for those channels operating its environment versus normal seeing or normal operating conditions. And then just any thoughts on revenue per fair for virtual fair versus normal in person fair?

Richard Robinson -- Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah. The profitability as we operate under pandemic is, and the back to school issues, it will be less people participating in fair. That is, the parents will -- that will and the community won't be quite as involved. We're structuring our fair business to accommodate that. We do have on the phone here, Drew, the new President of our fair business Sasha Quinton, I think I'll ask her to respond to that question also. Sasha, are you there?

Sasha Quinton -- President, Scholastic Book Fairs, Inc.

I'm here. Good afternoon, Drew.

Drew Crum -- Stifel -- Analyst

Hi, Sasha.

Sasha Quinton -- President, Scholastic Book Fairs, Inc.

So regarding [Indecipherable] Hi, and the revenue per fair is compared to the physical, we launched this in the spring in a test mode. And we actually saw a pretty significant range in terms of the performance from even higher than the physical fair and some lower. So, but generally they performed lower from a revenue per fair perspective. So we have a number of enhancements and developments and a lot of them are incredibly exciting for the fall season, which we know will offer a much richer more comprehensive virtual experiencing for our students and our teachers and parents alike. So we do believe that we can see some improvements there.

Drew Crum -- Stifel -- Analyst

Got it. Okay, guys. Appreciate it. Thank you. Stay safe.

Richard Robinson -- Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks so much for your support Drew for your questions. Thank you very much.


Thank you. [Operator Instructions] I'm not showing any further questions at this time. I would now like to turn the call back over to Richard Robinson for closing remarks.

Richard Robinson -- Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer

Well, thank you all for attending our year end and fourth quarter call. We obviously had a difficult fourth quarter where being very flexible, going back to school. We're very confident in Scholastic's ability to help teachers and parents and kids and schools and we're looking forward to doing the best we can with the situation, but our enduring brand will carry us through as it has for 100 years, as well as the skill of all the people in the company who have supported us and our customers and schools so well. Thank you for listening and we will be back to you in September.


[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 44 minutes

Call participants:

Gil Dickoff -- Senior Vice President, Treasurer and Head of Investor Relations

Richard Robinson -- Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer

Kenneth J. Cleary -- Chief Financial Officer

Sasha Quinton -- President, Scholastic Book Fairs, Inc.

Drew Crum -- Stifel -- Analyst

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