By Frank Ahrens
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 24, 2010; 10:03 AM
The Washington Post Co.'s newspaper division returned to profitability in the fourth quarter of 2009 for the first time in nearly two years, even though the paper lost money for the entire year.
The paper's parent, The Washington Post Co., earned $82.2 million on $1.2 billion in revenue ($8.71 per share) for the fourth quarter of 2009, up from $18.8 million in net income ($2.01) in the same quarter of 2008.
For all of 2009, The Post Co. earned $91.2 million on $4.6 billion in revenue ($9.78), up from $65.8 million in net income ($6.87) in 2008.
Continued cost-cutting boosted the newspaper back into the black. The paper reported operating income of $3.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2009, compared with an operating loss of $14.4 million in the same quarter of 2008. For all of 2009, The Post lost $163.5 million, compared with a loss of $192.7 million in 2008.
Newspaper advertising revenue in the quarter was down 9 percent compared with the same period of 2008. The paper lost so much money in the second quarter of 2008 that it pulled the entire Post Co. into the red for the first time since it began trading as a public company in 1971. The Post's newspaper division last reported positive operating income in the first quarter of 2008.
Daily circulation at The Post dropped 5.9 percent in 2009 and averaged 595,800 copies. Sunday circulation dropped 4.7 percent, and averaged 831,300 copies.
The Post Co.'s revenue and profit engine continued to be its Kaplan Inc. education subsidiary, which, in 2009, provided 57 percent of company revenue. For the fourth quarter, Kaplan revenue was $709 million, up 16 percent from the same period in 2008. For all of 2009, Kaplan revenue was up 13 percent compared with 2008.
The Post Co.'s CableOne cable subsidiary, with customers mainly in the Gulf States and the Northwest, reported fourth-quarter revenue of $191 million, up 4 percent from the same period in 2008. For all of 2009, CableOne revenue was $750 million, up 4 percent from 2008.
The Post Co.'s six television stations reported fourth-quarter revenue of $80 million, down 7 percent from the same period of 2008. For all of 2009, revenue at the stations was $272 million, down 16 percent from 2008.
At The Post Co.'s magazine division, which includes Newsweek, fourth-quarter revenue was $52 million, down 30 percent from the fourth quarter of 2008. For all of 2009, Newsweek revenue was $184 million, down 27 percent from 2008.