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Washington Post's Profit Rises

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The Washington Post Company’s first-quarter 2013 adjusted earnings from continuing operations came in at $3.46 per share, up substantially from $1.18 earned in the prior-year quarter reflecting strength across Television Broadcasting and Cable Television divisions, offset by sluggish performance in the Education and Newspaper Publishing divisions.

Including one-time items and discontinued operations, the company posted quarterly earnings of 64 cents compared with $4.07 per share in the year-ago quarter.

Revenue for the quarter came in at $959.1 million, up from $955.5 million in the prior-year quarter.

Education division’s revenue went down 3% to $527.8 million, reflecting a 12% fall in Higher Education revenue, partly offset by a 10% jump in Test Preparation revenue and a 6% increase in Kaplan International revenue. The Education division saw operating loss of $4.1 million compared with an operating loss of $11.9 million in the prior-year quarter.

Total student enrollment fell 12% year-over-year but jumped 3% sequentially to 67,196. The company hinted that new student enrollment went down by 9% during the quarter at Kaplan University and Kaplan Higher Education Campuses.

Television Broadcasting revenue rose 5% to $85.3 million during the quarter, whereas operating income grew 14% to $35.4 million, attributable to healthy advertising demand and rise in retransmission revenue. However, revenue from political advertising fell by $2.8 million.

Cable Television division’s revenue rose 5% to $200.1 million. The division benefited from higher rates but was offset by fall in basic video subscribers’ base. The division’s operating income jumped 12% to $36.6 million attributable to higher revenue partially offset by rise in programming expenses and depreciation.

Basic video subscribers fell 5.5% to 588,180, whereas telephony subscribers dropped 0.2% to 185,717. On the other hand, high-speed data subscribers rose 0.6% to 463,726.

Newspaper Publishing revenue came in at $127.3 million, down 4% from the year-ago quarter. Print advertising revenue at The Washington Post tumbled 8% to $48.6 million, reflecting a fall in general and retail advertising. Revenue from newspaper online publishing activities, principally and Slate, jumped 8% to $25.8 million, whereas display online advertising revenue climbed 16%. Online classified advertising revenue dipped 6%.

During the first quarter, Post daily and Sunday circulation fell 7.2% and 7.7%, respectively, from the year-ago period.

The Newspaper division’s operating loss came in at $34.5 million compared with a loss of $20.6 million in the prior-year quarter.

The economy, which is still not completely out of the woods, has been impeding the growth of publishing companies, and The Washington Post Company is no exception. The company recently completed the divestiture of its daily and Sunday newspaper, The Herald, based in Everett, WA, La Raza, 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, to InterActiveCorp . 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. Now it intends to sell its New England Media Group, including The Boston Globe and its allied properties. News Corporation (NWSA - Free Report) is also on the verge of splitting into two separate publicly traded publishing and entertainment entities.

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