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Washington Post 4Q earnings down 22 percent

February 24, 2012
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WASHINGTON—The Washington Post Co. on Friday reported a 22 percent drop in fourth-quarter net income.

The media and education company reported net income of $61.7 million or $8.03 per share for the October to December period, down from earnings of $79 million, or $9.42 per share, a year earlier.

Revenue fell 10 percent to $1.06 billion from $1.18 billion. Revenue declined at all of its divisions except cable TV, where it was flat.

The company said its latest quarter included several one-time items, including $9.6 million in severance and restructuring charges at the Kaplan education business.

Excluding one-time items, the company would have earned $8.96 per share in the latest quarter, down from $11.59 per share a year earlier.

The Washington Post Co. is best known for its namesake newspaper, but Kaplan accounts for more than half of its revenue. Once a growth engine, Kaplan is now accepting fewer students.

The U.S. Department of Education has been investigating Kaplan 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.

Revenue at Kaplan fell 14 percent to $597.7 million, and operating income fell 51 percent to $32.3 million.

At Cable One, the Phoenix, Ariz.-based cable business, revenue held steady at $191 million, while operating income rose 12 percent.

Revenue from newspaper publishing, the company's third-largest business, dropped 4 percent to $181 million, and operating income fell 63 percent, mainly due to a continued decline in print advertising.

Shares of the Washington Post Co. fell $1.11, or 0.3 percent, to $387.70.

For the full year, the Washington-based company reported net income of $116 million, or $14.70 per share, on $4.21 billion in revenue. That compares with 2010 net income of $277.2 million, or $31.04 per share, on $4.68 billion in revenue.

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