TV was bright spot for Washington Post Company in Q4


The Post-Newsweek Stations TV group is a relatively small part of The Washington Post Company, but it saved the day in Q4. While revenues declined for the big divisions, publishing and education, a double-digit revenue gain for TV pushed the total company to a tiny revenue gain for the quarter.

TV revenues jumped 28% for the quarter to $102.9 million, including a big jump in political advertising, but also gains in most advertising categories, especially automotive. Operating income for the TV division increased 56% to $45.3 million.

The tiniest division of all, cable television (Cable One), also posted a revenue gain in Q4, but only $700K to $191.3 million. Operating income, however, declined 5% to $37.4 million, excluding a one-time gain of $7.7 million the previous year. The company cited increased technical and sales costs.

The company’s namesake newspaper operation saw revenues decline 3% in Q4 to $188.4 million. However, big cuts in operating expenses produce a 529% boost in operating income to $19.9 million from only $3.2 million a year earlier. The newspaper division still posted a $9.8 million operating loss for the year (compared to a loss of $163.5 million in 2009) with revenues flat at $680 million.

For the full year, by the way, TV revenues were up 25% to $342.2 million and operating income rose 72% to $121.3 million.

After adding in a 1% decline in revenues to $699.8 million for the once hot education division, Q4 revenues for the entire company were essentially flat, up $3.8 million to $1.19 billion. Operating income declined 3.3% to $149.7 million. Net income available for common shareholders was $79 million, or $9.42 per share. That was up from the reported $$81.7 million, or $8.71 per share a year earlier, but down from $91.4 million, or $9.74 per share excluding the Q4 2009 loss from discontinued operations, primarily Newsweek magazine.

RBR-TVBR observation: The newspaper business still isn’t great, but it appears to be less bad. The Post managed to slow its print ad revenue decline and grow its online ad revenues to the point where revenues for the full year were pretty much flat. And that was despite circulation declines for both the daily and Sunday print editions.