Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Old Media Deathwatch: WaPo Profit Plummets 77%

Yesterday it was the San Francisco Chronicle announcing they're clinging to life. Over the weekend the Journal Register Co. filed for bankruptcy followed Monday by Philadelphia's largest newspapers.

Now we get one of the really big boys headed for the abyss.

Please, try and contain your tears.
The Washington Post Co.'s reeling newspaper and magazine divisions stumbled again in the fourth quarter, extending an earnings slump that would have been even more disconcerting if not for the stability of the company's education and cable TV businesses.

The publisher of The Washington Post and Newsweek magazine said Wednesday that it made $18.8 million, or $2.01 per share, during the final three months of last year. That represented a 77 percent drop from net income of $82.9 million, or $8.71 per share, in the same quarter a year earlier.

The results for the last quarter included after-tax charges of more than $82 million to account for the eroding value of the company's newspaper holdings, the upcoming closure of a Maryland printing plant and restructuring costs.

It marked the Washington-based company's ninth consecutive quarter of declining profit.

Revenue rose 3 percent to $1.16 billion.

Washington Post Co. shares fell $7.42, or nearly 2 percent, to $377.57 in Wednesday's afternoon trading.

Like most publishers across the United States, the company's publications have been losing advertising revenue to the Internet for several years. The pain has been exacerbated during the past six months by a devastating recession that has waylaid retailers, banks, auto dealers and builders—traditionally all big buyers of newspaper ads.
Not to mention a relentlessly leftwing slant in their reporting, but let's ignore that 10 ton elephant in the room. The current recession doesn't explain why their profit has declined for nine straight quarters.

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