WaPo’s Display Revs Rose 13 Percent; Online Classifieds Continue To Plunge


Credit: AP Images

The Washington Post (NYSE: WPO) Company’s online newspaper revenue was up just 1 percent to $31.5 million in Q4, but in a sign of a turnaround for display ads, that segment grew 13 percent during the period. For the year, display managed to rise a slight 2 percent, while total online was down 8 percent to $99.6 million. Despite the good news on display, though, online classifieds, like the category as a whole, remain dismal. Online classified revenue for the WashingtonPost.com plummeted 24 percent in 2009, falling 17 percent for the fourth quarter of 2009. Meanwhile net income was up substantially, thanks mostly, as usual, the education and cable TV businesses.

The publisher also said that part of the $142.3 million in goodwill resulted from impairment charges related to its lead generation business.

Newspaper: Primarily, the newspaper and related online revenues mostly cover the flagship Washington Post. The newspaper division’s revenue dropped 15 percent last year to $679.3 million; Q4 revenue slipped 4 percent to $193.3 million, suggesting that declines slowed during the usually strong holiday season. Even more specifically, print ad revenue at The Post plunged 23 percent to $317.0 million last year. The print segment declined 9 percent to $92.6 million in Q4. With the problem of print ad revenue decreases practically universal at most other newspaper companies, many have been trying to boost circ dollars. That could be a problem for WaPo, as daily circ fell 5.9 percent, while Sunday circ dropped 4.7 percent in 2009.

Magazines: As tough as things are at the newspaper, the picture is even worse at Newsweek, which represents the segment for the most part. The year’s total revenues slid 27 percent to $184.2 million, while Q4 dollars fell 30 percent to $52.4 million as ad pages continued to drop. Looking back to Q109, 44 Newsweek staffers accepted buyouts, which resulted in a $6.6 million charge at the time.

Budget Travel sale: In attempt to find more cost savings just before the year came to a close, Newsweek sold its Budget Travel magazine to Fletcher Asset Management. The company says it realized a gain on the sale, but didn’t offer specifics. BT posted operating losses of $1.2 million in 2009 and $700,000 the year before. The magazine had $2 million Q4 operating income, compared to an operating loss of $0.8 million in Q408.

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