Earnings: WaPo Q1 Profits Fall 39 Percent, As Revs Grow 8 Percent

This story was written by David Kaplan.
A dismal economy combined with the usual newspaper industry challenges led The Washington Post Company's (NYSE: WPO) Q1 net income downward 39 percent to $39.3 million ($4.08 per share) from last year's $64.4 million ($6.70 per share). And while revenue for the period was up 8 percent to $1.063 billion, from Q107's $985.6 million, the increase is due growth at the education and cable TV divisions, which made up for declines at the newspaper, magazine and broadcasting divisions. And in line with prevailing industry trends, the online side of the newspaper unit represented a sole bright spot. Also, the company's results were impacted by charges of $24.6 million related to early retirement program expense at Newsweek (after-tax impact of $15.3 million, or $1.60 per share).

-- Online publishing revenue, primarily at WashingtonPost.com, grew 8 percent to $27.1 million in Q1, versus $25.1 million for Q107. Display online advertising revenue gained 17 percent, while online classified revs, which have decreased at other publishes in Q1, was up a modest 2 percent at WaPo's site. A small portion of the company's online publishing revenues is included in the magazine publishing division.

-- The newspaper division's revenue totaled $206.1 million in Q1, a 6 percent drop from last year's $219.2 million. The division's operating income was $1.2 million, down from $14.9 million in 2007. Print advertising revenue at The Washington Post fell 11 percent to $111.6 million, from $125.1 million in 2007.

-- Revenue for the magazine unit came in at $53.4 million, a 13 percent decline from Q107's $61.2 million. The decrease was attributed to a 15 percent reduction in ad revenue at Newsweek, which had fewer ad pages in its domestic edition. To a larger extent, the drop in revenue was a result of lower rates due to the circulation rate base reduction, which went from 3.1 million to 2.6 million. Earnings release

By David Kaplan