Earnings: Washington Post's Profit Drops 77 Percent; Display Ads Up 10 Percent

So what if the Washington Post Company (NYSE: WPO) is continuing its $2.15 dividend, unlike the New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT) and Gannett? In this jittery market, that’s not enough to compensate for a 77 percent drop in net income for Q408 and investors spent the morning saying so, sending the stock down more than $14 to $370.71, nearly 4 percent, in post-earnings trading. The education and publishing company — in revenue determined names it might be called KapCo instead of WaPo — reported a 3 percent rise in revenues, to $1.16 billion from $1.125 billion in Q407.

Excluding the various charges, which we’ll get into below, the company said its operating income was still down, attributing the decrease to newspaper publishing, magazine publishing and local TV, offset, in part, by better results in education and cable. Net income fell 77 percent, to $18.8 million, or $2.02 per share, from $82.9 million, or $8.71 per share, in Q407.

One-time items included:

— impairment of $142.5 million for its online lead gen business CourseAdvisor, community newspapers and two “equity affiliates;” $75.5 million of that was recorded in Q408. The CourseAdvisor write down was $69.7 million.
— Restructuring costs of $11 million at Kaplan Professional; $7.1 million was recorded in Q408.

Online publishing : The company includes online results with each of its segments but reports that overall, online publishing, primarily washingtonpost.com, brought in $122.7 million in revenue in 2008, up 7 percent, and $35.5 million in Q408, up 5 percent. Display advertising was up 17 percent for 2008 and 10 percent for Q4. Online classifieds didn’t do as well, down 3 percent for the year and 6 percent for the quarter.

Earnings release

Some segment results after the jump.

Some segment results:

Newspapers: Revenue for the division, led by the Washington Post, dropped 13 percent for the quarter, to $201.7 million from $232.6 million in Q407. Overall, the division lost $192.7 million in 2008; the picture is a little better without the one-time charges — down $24.9 million for 2008 and enough operating income in Q4 to show positive by $0.3 million.

Cable: MSO CableOne increased revenue for Q408 by 11 percent, to $184.1 million from $165.3 million in Q407. The increase reflects growth — and rate increases — in digital voice, high-speed data and digital cable. Operating income was up 37 percent.

Education: Q4 revenue rose 13 percent, to $609 million from $537 million in Q407. The greatest revenue gain was in higher ed, but costs were higher too.