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Washington Post's Earnings Drop

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The Washington Post Company’s third-quarter 2013 adjusted earnings from continuing operations came in at $7.26 per share, down from $7.69 earned in the prior-year quarter.

Including one-time items and discontinued operations, this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock posted quarterly earnings of $4.05 compared with $12.64 per share in the year-ago quarter.

The Washington Post Company, which competes with Apollo Group Inc. , said that revenue for the quarter came in at $902.5 million, up 3% from $877.6 million in the prior-year quarter, reflecting strength across Cable Television division and Other businesses, offset by soft performance in the Education and Television Broadcasting divisions

Education division’s revenue went down 1% to $546.5 million, reflecting a 3% fall in Higher Education revenue and 5% drop in Test Preparation revenue, partly offset by a 4% increase in Kaplan International revenue. The Education division registered operating income of $17 million, up 16% from $14.7 million in the prior-year quarter. Total student enrollment fell 11% year-over-year but climbed 5% sequentially to 65,158.

Television Broadcasting revenue plunged 18% to $87.1 million during the quarter, whereas operating income plummeted 33% to $36.3 million, attributable to lower political advertising revenue and the absence of summer Olympics-related advertising that benefited the year-ago quarter. Revenue from political advertising fell by $15.9 million. These were partly offset by jump in advertising revenue from the broadcast of NBA finals at the segment’s ABC affiliates in San Antonio and Miami, and rise in retransmission revenue.

Cable Television division’s revenue rose 1% to $202.4 million. The division benefited from higher rates, rise in commercial sales and lower promotional discounts but was offset by fall in basic video subscribers’ base. The division’s operating income tumbled marginally to $39.7 million from $39.9 million in the prior-year quarter.

Basic video subscribers fell 7% to 561,119 and telephony subscribers dropped 2% to 182,643. On the other hand, high-speed data subscribers increased 1% to 469,296.

Revenue from Other businesses came in at $66.6 million, up significantly from $20.2 million.

The Washington Post Company completed the divestment of its newspaper publishing businesses to Jeffrey P. Bezos, founder of Inc. (AMZN - Free Report) for $250 million. The sell-off, which includes the flagship newspaper ‘The Washington Post’, comes as a major development amid bleak economic conditions. Alongside The Washington Post, the Express newspaper, The Gazette Newspapers, Southern Maryland Newspapers, Fairfax County Times, El Tiempo Latino and Greater Washington Publishing have been sold.

Earlier, the company had divested its daily and Sunday newspaper, The Herald, based in Everett, Wash., La Raza, to Black Press Ltd. and its subsidiary Sound Publishing.

The New York Times Company (NYT - Free Report) is yet another example of publishing companies which are shedding assets. Last year in September, the company completed the sale of About Group, which it acquired in 2005. Moreover, in May 2012, the company divested its remaining stake (210 Class B units) in the Fenway Sports Group. The company in Dec 2011 sold the Regional Media Group. Most recently on Oct 24, 2013, it completed the sale of New England Media Group.

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