NEW YORK — The Washington Post Co. said Wednesday that its fourth-quarter profit more than quadrupled, largely because of a big reduction in accounting charges. Its education division also provided a lift, and the publishing segment made money after cutting staff.
Along with other companies that publish newspapers and magazines, the Post Co. has made painful cutbacks to deal with an advertising slump. It has offered buyouts to employees of The Washington Post newspaper and Newsweek magazine and consolidated printing facilities.
The Post is unique, however, in that it has its cable TV and Kaplan education services businesses, which account for nearly three-quarters of the company's revenue and continue to grow.
Overall, the company earned $81.7 million, or $8.71 per share. That was up from $18.8 million, or $2.01 per share, a year earlier.
However, in the year-earlier quarter, the company's net income was lowered $80 million by several one-time costs, including restructuring charges and reductions in the value of the company's newspapers. In the most recent quarter, the Post Co. took only $1 million in one-time charges.
Revenue grew 6 percent to $1.24 billion.
Kaplan's revenue rose 16 percent, with a 30 percent jump in operating revenue. The unit that provides cable TV service increased revenue 4 percent and operating profit 2 percent.
The newspaper division, which includes dozens of dailies and weeklies, saw a 4 percent revenue decline but reversed its losses. Job reductions and other cost-cutting steps helped it post an operating income of $3.2 million, compared with an operating loss of $14.4 million a year earlier.
The lingering impact of the recession and competition on the Web continued to erode ad sales in the fourth quarter. Magazine revenue fell 30 percent, spurred by a 36 percent drop in ad revenue at Newsweek. At the company's namesake newspaper, print advertising revenue dropped 9 percent – although that was an improvement over the 28 percent drop in the third quarter.
That follows a similar pattern seen at other newspaper companies. But while other publishers have pointed to improving trends, the Post offered no guidance on what it expects for 2010. The company does not hold a conference call with Wall Street analysts to discuss results.
Washington Post Co. shares rose $13.90, or 3.4 percent, to $426.41 in midday trading.