* Fourth qtr net profit falls 22 pct
* Student sign-ups at Kaplan grows 3 pct
* Ad sales at newspaper, TV and online fall
Feb 24 The Washington Post Co's
profit slipped again due to advertising woes but its key Kaplan
education business seemed to be getting its feet back on the
ground as student sign-ups grew for the first time in five
New enrollments at Kaplan colleges rose 3 percent for the
October-December period, compared with the 30-45 percent
declines over the last four quarters.
Student sign-ups across the for-profit education industry
fell in 2011 due a government crackdown that revealed unethical
practices, low graduation rates and huge student debt loads.
The colleges were told to clean-up their act and tighten
enrollment standards, or risk losing federal aid.
Kaplan -- which brings in almost 60 percent of Washington
Post's total revenue -- implemented a program that allowed
students to take up a free trial of the program they want to
sign up for, before taking a final decision.
The improved new student sign-ups at Kaplan follows growth
reported by peers such as Apollo Group and Corinthian
Print advertising revenue and circulation fell about 6
percent at the Washington Post newspaper. Advertising at its
television and online businesses also fell.
Like most U.S. newspapers, Washington Post has been hit by
falling advertising revenue and circulation as more readers
switch to digital media.
But unlike its peers like the New York Times,
Washington Post has not established a paywall to access its
The company's third-quarter net income fell to $61.7
million, or $8.03 a share, from $79 million, or $9.42 a share, a
Excluding special items, it earned $8.96 per share. Revenue
fell 10 percent to $1.06 billion.
Last year, shareholders of the Post pushed the management to
consider a spinoff or sell some of its businesses. However,
chief executive Don Graham is reluctant to do so.
Earlier this month, the company offered voluntary buyouts to
some of its newsroom employees.
It cut 770 jobs at its Kaplan unit last year.
Washington Post shares were trading nearly flat at $387.55
in morning trade on Friday on the New York Stock Exchange.