Washington Post had profit despite media declines

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The Washington Post Co. turned a profit in the second quarter as growth in its education and cable TV divisions helped offset declines in newspaper, magazine and broadcast revenue.

Friday’s report indicated that the decline in newspaper ad sales might be moderating — a trend that other newspaper publishers have described in the past two weeks as well.

Although the Post Co. offered little comment on the state of the newspaper business and does not hold a conference call to discuss results with analysts, it said it saw a 20 percent decline in print ads year-over-year, compared with a 33 percent drop in the first quarter.

Unlike the other publishers that have reported this pattern, such as The New York Times Co., Gannett Co. and McClatchy Co., the Post Co. managed a second-quarter profit that didn’t primarily come from cutting costs. Instead the Post Co. relied on other businesses that continue to grow.

The Post Co., which owns Newsweek magazine, Kaplan education services and television properties along with its namesake newspaper, earned $12.2 million, or $1.30 per share, in the second quarter. That compares with a loss of $2.9 million, or 31 cents per share, in the same quarter of 2008.

Revenue edged up 2 percent to $1.13 billion.

The company said its profit was lowered by $56.8 million in early retirement costs at The Washington Post and a $14.3 million charge to account for the declining value of the newspaper.

This March, the Post announced its fourth round of buyouts since 2003. On Friday, the company said 220 employees took the offer, helping the Post save an estimated $20 million in annual salary and benefit expenses.

The company also incurred $15.2 million in restructuring charges at Kaplan.

However its profits were boosted $19.8 million by the weakening U.S. dollar. When the U.S. currency is weaker, revenue that companies get in foreign currencies translates into more dollars.

The Post Co.’s education revenues grew 13 percent to $649.3 million and cable posted a 4 percent gain to $186.7 million.

Meanwhile sales in the newspaper division tumbled 14 percent to $168.8 million. Broadcast TV fell 20 percent to $66.7 million and the magazine division plunged 27 percent to $45.5 million.

Washington Post Co. shares rose 45 cents to $419.55 in morning trading.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.