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Sans Newsweek, WaPo Publishing Revs Gain Modestly; Online Surges

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The Washington Post (NYSE: WPO) Company’s publishing division looked pretty good without Newsweek in Q3. The magazine, which counted as an $11.5 million loss in the discontinued operations column, was sold to audio equipment impresario Sidney Harman at the very end of the last quarter. Publishing revenues, which now refer only to the flagship newspaper and its Slate Group, were up 5 percent to $163.4 million in Q3. Total online publishing dollars jumped 21 percent to $27.2 million, which seems in line with with the turnaround in the wider digital ad sales marketplace.

The benefits of the ad recovery that began in the latter half of 2009 were clearly apparent in the company’s newspaper online revenues, which rose 14 percent to $77.8 million over the first nine months of 2010. Display ad revenue grew 26 percent and 21% in Q3 and from January to September, respectively. Even the’s online classified ads, which have tended to be mixed at best, was up 6 percent in Q3, though that was not enough to offset a 1 percent for the collective three quarters of this year.

The overwhelmingly positive online revenue numbers come as WaPo plans to give hyperlocal a try, TBD reported earlier this week. This time out, WaPo would appear to be focusing more heavily on mobile. WaPo’s last bet on hyperlocal was with a standalone site called LoudonExtra, which was shuttered in August ’09 two years after it launched.

Even print performed better than it has in some time. WaPo’s print revs were up 3 percent to $72 million. Since growth lagged for much of the year, print revenues slipped 4 percent to $215.9 million for the first nine months, mostly due to weak retail and classified spending.

In a further sign of success, WaPo’s newspaper division significantly narrowed its operating loss in Q3, losing $1.7 million this time out compared to $23.6 million during the same period last year.