Waverly Inc., the Baltimore-based medical publishing house, posted a 27 percent increase in first-quarter earnings yesterday and announced the purchase of four medical newsletters from a Florida company.

Waverly had net profit of $684,000, or 7 cents a share, for the first quarter of 1997 compared with earnings of $539,000, or 6 cents a share, during the comparable period last year.

The earnings came on revenues of $39.2 million for the quarter, up 3 percent from $37.9 million in first-quarter 1996.

Waverly said revenue actually grew by 6 percent, but was retarded by the strengthening of the dollar versus the German mark.

The company said in a news release that the performance was in line with management goals, and that growth in 1997 should closely track last year's results.

The board also voted yesterday to increase its quarterly dividend to 7 cents a share from 6 1/2 cents.

In addition, Waverly announced a push into the medium of medical newsletters.

The company said it had acquired copyrights and mailing lists for Anesthesia Malpractice Prevention, Ob/Gyn Malpractice Prevention, Laparoscopic Surgery Update and Clinical Trials Advisor from Global Success Corp. Inc. of Naples, Fla.

The company did not disclose the price of the newsletters, but said it would pay cash.

It expects to close the deal this week.

Waverly already publishes newsletters through its Williams & Wilkins' Periodical Publishing Group, but said it will form a new business unit "dedicated to aggressive and profitable growth" in the field.

The new acquisitions will also bolster Waverly's holdings in the publishing areas of anesthesiology, surgery and obstetrics and gynecology, the company said.

Newsletters are a new emphasis for Waverly. In recent months, the publisher has focused on overseas products.

The company bought the rights to 150 English-language titles from a Japanese medical book publisher in January.

In December, Waverly set up joint ventures to sell textbooks and other publications in France and Spain.

A publisher of health- and medical-related texts for students and practitioners, Waverly posted revenue of $171 million last year, up from $156.3 million the year before.

Shares of the company's stock dropped 37 cents yesterday to close at $20.50.

Pub Date: 4/29/97

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