What happened

Shares of educational publisher Scholastic Corporation (NASDAQ:SCHL) jumped after the company reported a big fiscal Q2 2020 earnings "beat" yesterday evening and are up 9.7% as of 10:25 a.m. EST.

Analysts had expected Scholastic to report $1.77 per share in pro forma earnings and sales of $591.2 million for its second quarter of fiscal 2020. Instead, Scholastic reported pro forma profit of $2.06 per share and $597.2 million in sales.

Words book fair printed on a background of splattered paint

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Pro forma profits excluded $0.04 in "one-time items." Factoring those back into the picture, Scholastic's actual GAAP profit for the quarter was only $2.02 per share -- still a 1.5% improvement over last year's $1.99 earned. Sales in the quarter, however, declined by about 1.2% year over year.

More granularly, within the flagship children's book publishing division, management noted that all of the sales decline came about from weaker sales through book clubs (sales down 15% year over year). In contrast, school book fair sales grew 2%, and sales through trade shows increased 8%.

Education segment sales declined 2%, and international sales declined 1%.

Now what

Those numbers may not impress growth investors, but even so, a beat is a beat -- and Scholastic shareholders seem pleased with this one. Also encouraging is the fact that despite the declines in sales in Q2, management is sticking with its guidance for the rest of this fiscal year. For full-year fiscal 2020, Scholastic forecasts "revenues in the range of $1.67 to $1.70 billion" (up 1% to 3% year over year) and "adjusted EBITDA" (a very pro forma number) of $140 million to $160 million.

Management did not give GAAP guidance for the year but said the pro forma number, at least, could be up as much as 32% from last year.