Washington Post Co. Swings to Q1 Loss As Newspapers Drag Down Results

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By: E&P Staff

The Washington Post Co. Friday reported a first-quarter net loss of $19.5 million, or $2.04 a share as operating losses as charges at its newspaper and magazine divisions offset revenue gains at its Kaplan education and cable businesses. In the first quarter of 2008, the Post Co. reported net income of $39.3 million, or $4.08 per share.

The newspaper division also swung to a loss, reporting an operating loss of $53.8 million in the first quarter, compared to operating income of $1.2 million in the year-ago period.

Newspaper revenue fell 22% from the year-ago quarter to $160.9 million.

Print advertising at the flagship Washington Post plunged 33% to $74.3 million on big declines in classified, preprint, retail and zoned advertising. The initial company announcement did not detail the declines in advertising categories.

Newspaper online ad revenue, mostly from washingtonpost.com, fell 8% to $22 million in the first quarter. While display online advertising revenue grew 3%, online classified ad revenue on washingtonpost.com plummeted 23%.

The Post Co. also recorded accelerated depreciation of $13.4 million related to the planned closing of its College Park, Md., printing plant in the second half of 2009 and the consolidation of printing operations in Springfield, Va. The company said it will take accelerated depreciation of an additional $18.5 million for the rest of the year.

Also weighing down newspaper results, the Post Co. said were increased bad debt expenses.

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