Washington Post Co. Earnings Fall 95%

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(AP) The Washington Post Co. reported a 95% decline in third quarter net earnings Friday due to an advertising slump and charges to write down investments.

The company, whose properties include The Washington Post and Newsweek, reported net income of $1.6 million, or 14 cents per share, compared to $33.5 million, or $3.51 per share, in the same period a year ago.

Excluding the effect of about $26 million in investment write-downs, earnings for the most recent quarter were $15.1 million, or $1.56 a share, above the $1.39 per share analysts polled by Thomson Financial/First Call were expecting.

The company attributed the decline in earnings to a 19% drop in advertising revenue at its advertising-based businesses. That includes its flagship newspaper, where ad revenue fell 20% in the quarter, as well as at its television stations, which saw a 23% decline.

However, Newsweek magazine had what the company described as a “significant spike” in newsstand sales following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Revenues were also higher at its Kaplan test preparation and educational services division.

Total revenues fell 1% to $595.5 million from $602.4 million in the same period a year ago.

The company’s shares were off $1.75 to $521 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

For the first nine months of the year, net income was $215.1 million, which included gains from the sale and exchange of cable TV systems. In the same period a year ago the company earned $98.8 million. Nine-month revenues edged up 3% to $1.79 billion from $1.74 billion.

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