Washington Post Reports $19.2 Million 1Q Loss

06/01/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

NEW YORK — The Washington Post Co. lost money in the first quarter, as advertising revenue fell 33 percent at the namesake newspaper and the company's education and cable TV businesses couldn't make up the difference.

Washington Post stock slid $52.71, or 13 percent, to $365.88 Friday.

The publisher, whose properties also include Newsweek magazine and Kaplan education services, lost $19.2 million, or $2.04 per share, compared with a profit of $38.8 million, or $4.08 per share, in the year-ago quarter.

The newspaper division reported an operating loss of $54 million. And to punctuate that unit's decline, cable TV revenue overtook publishing for the first time. Now newspapers bring The Washington Post Co. less revenue than either cable or Kaplan education services, two units that have helped shield the company from the publishing industry's woes. The Post Co. had seen nine straight quarters of declining profit before the loss this time around.

Kaplan was not as much of a help as usual in the first quarter. The education group's revenue climbed 9 percent to $593.5 million, but higher costs and restructuring charges cut the unit's operating income by 76 percent.

Overall, first-quarter results included $16.9 million in restructuring costs at Kaplan, a $13.4 million write-down on the value of The Washington Post newspaper and $6.6 million in early retirement costs at Newsweek.

Revenue slid 1 percent to $1.05 billion from $1.06 billion, mostly because of falling ad sales in the newspaper, television and magazine divisions.

The ad decline at the Post was comparable to what other major newspapers registered in the first three months of the year. Publications are suffering a double blow of a long recession and the loss of advertisers to the Web.

The New York Times Co. reported an overall ad decline of 27 percent in the same quarter. Gannett Co., the country's largest newspaper publisher, said ad revenue in its publishing operations fell 34 percent. Print ad sales in McClatchy Co. newspapers fell 33 percent.

Online ad revenue had been growing steadily for years, but like other newspapers, the Post has seen that trend reverse. Online revenue, primarily from Washingtonpost.com, fell 8 percent.

The broadcast TV and magazine divisions also felt the advertising pinch, falling 21 percent and 14 percent respectively.

Cable revenue was up 5 percent to $183.5 million, surpassing the newspaper division, which saw its overall revenue fall 22 percent to $160.9 million.