Washington Post reports loss on writedown of test prep business

Fri Feb 22, 2013 11:02am EST

A view of the lobby of The Washington Post Company headquarters in Washington, March 30, 2012. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

A view of the lobby of The Washington Post Company headquarters in Washington, March 30, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

(Reuters) - Washington Post Co posted a fourth-quarter loss on Friday after taking a $111.6 million writedown of one of its troubled educational businesses, Kaplan Test Preparation.

The company, which publishes its namesake newspaper and operates cable and education businesses, reported a loss of $45.4 million, or $6.57 per share, compared with year-earlier net income of $61.7 million, or $8.03 per share.

Washington Post Co has been struggling with two problems of late: the precipitous decline of print advertising revenue at its flagship publication and tougher regulations aimed at for-profit colleges that affect its Kaplan business.

The education business accounts for half of the company's total revenue. In the fourth quarter, revenue at that division declined 6 percent to $544.4 million.

At the newspaper division, revenue dropped 6 percent to $162.1 million due on a 12 percent decline in print advertising at the Washington Post.

Online advertising revenue, which includes Slate, rose 5 percent to $33.1 million.

The newspaper division's operating income fell to $2.6 million in the fourth quarter from $6.8 million a year earlier because of pension and severance expenses.

In recent weeks, the company sold some newspapers in Washington state and put the Washington Post newspaper's headquarters building up for sale.

Shares of the Washington Post were down 1.3 percent at $407.01 in morning trading.

(Reporting by Jennifer Saba in New York; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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