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Washington Post Co. returns to profit

By Frank Ahrens
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Washington Post Co. reported a first-quarter profit of $45.4 million ($4.91 per share) compared with a net loss of $19.2 million ($2.04) in the first quarter of 2009.

First-quarter revenue was $1.17 billion, up 11 percent from a year earlier, when it was $1.05 billion.

The revenue increase came from gains in the company's Kaplan education division, its Cable One cable company and its six television stations, which offset losses at its newspaper and magazine divisions.

Kaplan reported a 20 percent gain in first-quarter revenue to $711.4 million, compared with the year-ago period. Kaplan's first-quarter operating income surged to $57.9 million, compared with $11.1 million a year earlier.

The Post Co.'s newspaper division, which is dominated by the flagship newspaper, lost $13.8 million in the first quarter, compared with a loss of $53.8 million in the year-ago period. This comes after the newspaper's fourth-quarter move into the black on the strength of cost cutting and holiday ad spending.

Print advertising at The Post dropped 8 percent in the first quarter to $68.7 million, but online advertising -- primarily at Washingtonpost.com and the Slate properties -- rose 8 percent to $23.7 million.

First-quarter daily circulation of The Post dropped 12.5 percent, and Sunday circulation dropped 10.4 percent.

The Post Co. announced earlier this week that it is putting its money-losing Newsweek magazine up for sale. The magazine division -- of which Newsweek is the largest part -- narrowed its first-quarter loss to $2.3 million, compared with a loss of $20.3 million in the first quarter of 2009.

The Post Co.'s six television stations were helped by a surge in Olympics advertising revenue, especially at the NBC affiliates. First-quarter revenue at the stations rose 20 percent to $73.5 million.

At Cable One, a small cable system with customers primarily in the Gulf States and the Northwest, first-quarter revenue was up 3 percent to $189.4 million.

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