Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos is buying The Washington Post and other newspapers for $250 million. Here’s a look at the newspaper and where the deal leaves its parent company, The Washington Post Co.
COMPANY: Although its namesake newspaper is its best-known brand, The Washington Post Co. owns several other businesses. The Kaplan schools and test-preparation services make up the largest division by revenue. The company also has the Cable One cable television business, six local television stations, Foreign Policy magazine, the websites Slate and The Root and the WaPo Labs digital development unit. The Washington Post Co. will continue as a publicly traded company, but with a new name that hasn’t been announced.
Besides The Washington Post and its website, Bezos is taking the Express newspaper, The Gazette Newspapers, Southern Maryland Newspapers, Fairfax County Times, El Tiempo Latino and Greater Washington Publishing.
DIVISION PERFORMANCE: The Kaplan business had helped bolster the company’s results amid declines in the newspaper industry. But tougher federal regulations for for-profit schools in recent years forced the Kaplan schools to tighten its admissions standards. As a result, revenue has been hurt.
In the April-June quarter, revenue in the education department fell 1 percent to $548 million, according to the company. That was 54 percent of the company’s operating revenue that quarter.
Revenue from cable TV rose 5 percent to $205 million, representing 20 percent of the company’s operating revenue, while revenue from broadcast-TV stations rose 4 percent to $99.3 million, representing 10 percent.
Revenue at the company’s newspaper publishing unit fell 1 percent to $138 million. That reflected a 15 percent increase in revenue from online publishing activities and a 4 percent decline in print advertising revenue. The newspaper division accounted for 14 percent of operating revenue in the second quarter.
In 2012, the division’s revenue was $582 million, down 39 percent from $957 million in 2005. Meanwhile, the company’s newspaper division swung from an annual operating profit of $125 million in 2005 to an operating loss of $54 million last year.
CIRCULATION: The Washington Post had average weekday circulation of 474,767 in the six months through March, according to the Alliance for Audited Media. That makes it the seventh-largest U.S. newspaper by circulation.
But that’s down from a decade ago. In 2002, the Post’s paid weekday circulation averaged nearly 768,000 copies, according to regulatory filings.
STOCK: The Washington Post Co.’s stock was up 5 percent at $597.50 in after-hours trading, following the announcement of the deal. Since the start of the year, the stock has increased more than 60 percent. The all-time high of $999.50 was hit on Dec. 30, 2004.
HISTORY: The Washington Post was founded in 1877. It was purchased by Wall Street financier Eugene Meyer for $825,000 at a bankruptcy auction during the Great Depression. The newspaper has been controlled by his heirs since 1933. Its news breaks include coverage of the Watergate scandal, which ultimately led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation.