Washington Post reports 3Q loss, lower revenue

AP News

11/4/2011 1:17:13 PM - AP News

The Washington Post Co. reported a $6.2 million quarterly loss on Friday, weighed down by special costs at its for-profit education business and lower revenue at its newspaper division.

The Washington Post Co. reported a third-quarter net loss of $6.2 million or 82 cents per share in the July through September period, down from earnings of $60.9 million, or 6.84 per share, a year earlier.

Revenue fell 13 percent to $1.03 billion from $1.18 billion as the company saw revenue decline at all of its divisions.

Although best known for its namesake newspaper, The Washington Post Co. relies heavily on its Kaplan education business for growth. Newspapers, including the Post, have experienced a decline in print advertising revenue because of free or cheaper alternatives on the Internet.

But Kaplan has hit a snag, too. The U.S. Department of Education has been investigating it and other for-profit colleges over allegations that they often recruit students who have little chance of graduating and finding jobs, leaving them with huge debts.

Faced with that pressure, Kaplan now accepts fewer students. The company also allows students to withdraw from classes _ without financial penalty _ if they can't keep up with the curriculum. The changes have translated to lower revenue.

The company said its latest quarter included several special items, including $3.5 million, or 44 cents per share, in severance and restructuring charges at Kaplan and a writedown of $14.9 million, or $1.89 per share, related to its stake in Corinthian Colleges, a for-profit education company separate from Kaplan. Excluding these items, the company would have earned $4.95 per share in the latest quarter, down from $9.14 per share a year earlier.

Revenue at the Post's education division fell 16 percent to $615.9 million. At its cable division, revenue fell about half of a percent to $187.9 million. Newspaper publishing revenue dropped 9 percent to $149.3 million and TV broadcasting revenue dropped 11 percent to $73.8 million.

Shares of the Washington Post Co. fell $9.81, or 2.9 percent, to $325.89 amid a broader market decline. In the past 52 weeks, the stock has traded in the range of $308.50 and $455.68,