Today, Sotheby’s released its financial results for the second quarter of 2015, which concluded on June 30. The auction house announced total revenue of $487.7 million, down 1 percent from the figure reported for the same quarter last year. Profits came in at $67.6 million for that period, or 96 cents a share, compared with $77.6 million ($1.11 a share) for Q2 last year.
Sotheby’s partially blamed the slips on a calendar shift for its summer London contemporary art evening sale, which took place during last year’s second quarter but this year’s third quarter. Also dragging down earnings was the sale of a painting that was owned by the house for a loss.
Skate’s, the art business intelligence unit of ARTnews S.A., noted in its analysis of the results that Sotheby’s finance department is at least doing well—it is “both the fastest growing part of Sotheby’s operations and…the second largest business unit of the firm,” Skate’s writes, though adding that it “is not enough to alleviate sell pressure on Sotheby’s stock.”
In older to bolster the house’s stock price, which is down 13.9 percent this year, Sotheby’s board of directors has restarted dividend payments and signed off on a $125 million increase to its share repurchase program, bringing its total commitment to $250 million. The house aims to buy back $125 million in its stock within the next year and a half.
Near the end of the conference call announcing the earnings, Sotheby’s CEO Tad Smith said, “In regards to [profit] volatility, we are going to be a very competitive business, but at this time we’re focused on returns in invested capital and being careful with shareholders’ money.”