The Washington Post Co., citing a softening advertising environment in both its print and broadcast operations and a sharp decline in income from newsprint production, said yesterday its profit fell 8 percent in the second quarter.
The Washington-based media company, whose holdings include The Washington Post, Newsweek magazine, a string of television stations and cable systems and some smaller information-related businesses, said it earned $55.9 million ($4.60 a share) in the quarter, down from $60.5 million ($4.72) a year ago.
The per-share decline was narrower than the overall drop because the company has fewer shares outstanding this year as the result of a share repurchase plan. More than 200,000 Class B common shares were repurchased by the company during the quarter, as it completed plans to buy back 700,000 shares since 1987, and beginning a new effort to repurchase another 1 million shares.
Revenue in the quarter rose 1 percent, to $379.6 million from $374.5 million a year ago.
Although the decline in earnings at The Washington Post Co. continued a trend that emerged in the first quarter, the drop was not as steep as many of those reported yesterday by several other large media companies -- a contrast attributed by industry analysts to the relative strength of the Washington market.
Advertising lineage at The Washington Post, for instance, was down 9 percent in the second quarter, although much of the decline was made up by higher advertising rates, leaving The Washington Post Co. with a year-over-year revenue decline of just 2 percent in its newspaper division, which also includes the Everett (Wash.) Herald. The company does not break out earnings figures for its divisions.
Revenue at Newsweek was up 6 percent in the quarter, although the period included one more issue than a year ago. Revenue at the company's broadcast division fell 4 percent in the quarter, while revenue from cable-TV operations rose 11 percent. Revenue from a number of smaller businesses, including Stanley H. Kaplan Educational Centers and Legi-Slate, a legislation-tracking service, rose 13 percent in the quarter.