NEW YORK—On May 10 Sotheby’s Holdings reported a first-quarter loss of $9.7 million, or 16 cents a share, compared with earnings of $13.5 million, or 22 cents a share, in the same period last year. Sotheby’s said the current figure suffered by comparison with the same period last year, when a one-time $45 million license revenue fee from Cendant raised the total (see ANL, 6/8/04). Excluding the onetime gain in 2004, the company’s first-quarter loss in that period would have been $14.9 million, or 24 cents a share.
The company posted a substantial 53 percent increase in auction sales during the first quarter—up to $356 million from $233.2 million in the same period of 2004. The rise was mainly owing to the strong performance of the London Impressionist, modern and contemporary sale series in February, which climbed 37 percent from the comparative period of the previous year.
Sotheby’s notes that auction sales in the first quarter have historically represented just 9-12 percent of annual auction sales, owing to the seasonal nature of the auction business, and that the first quarter is typically a loss period for the company.