Washington Post Up on Education, Ads

WASHINGTON ( TheStreet) -- The Washington Post ( WPO) saw third-quarter earnings skyrocket due to revenue gains in its education division as well as a recovery in the advertising market at its newspaper division.

For the quarter ended October 3, the company saw earnings spike to $60.9 million, or $6.84 per diluted share, compared with earnings of $17.1 million, or $1.81 per diluted share, in the same period a year ago.

Revenue rose 7.3% to $1.19 billion from $1.11 billion during the quarter due to gains in its education, television broadcasting and newspaper publishing segments.

Education division revenue was up 9% to $743.3 million from $684.5 million, primarily due to the triple digit gain in Kaplan operating income to $99.1 from $45.9 million.

In July, the U.S. Department of Education proposed new regulations that require for-profit institutions to better prepare students for "gainful employment" or they run the risk of losing access to federal student aid.

In response to federal government pressures, Kaplan introduced the "Kaplan Commitment," a program that allows prospective students to attend the first few class sessions of a new course to assess whether they want to enroll.

"The company expects that this regulation if enacted as proposed would significantly impact Kaplan's operating results as some or all institutions owned by Kaplan might be required to limit program offerings to ensure compliance with the restrictions of the proposed gainful employment rule," its third quarter earnings report said.

The Education Department plans to issue the final rules early next year, and intends for the regulations to go into effect starting on July 1, 2012.

Revenue from its newspaper division rose 5% to $163.4 million from $156.3 million. The gain was driven by a 3% increase in print advertising revenue at The Washington Post to $72.0 million from $70.0 million.

Revenue from its online newspaper publishing activities, primarily Washingtonpost.com and Slate, was up 21% to $27.2 million from $22.6 million. Display online advertising revenue grew 26% and online classified advertising revenue on Wwashingtonpost.com increased 6%.

Washington Post's cable television revenue dropped slightly to $188.7 million, from $189.6 million. This decrease was more than offset by strong gains across the company's other segments.

For the nine months ended October 3, earnings surged to $198.2 million, or $21.75 a share, compared with earnings of $10.1 million, or $1.08 a share, in the same period a year ago.

Revenue rose 10.4% to $3.53 billion from $3.2 billion due to improved revenue at all of the company's divisions for the first nine months of 2010.

Education division revenue increased 14% to 2.2 billion from $1.93 billion. Kaplan Higher Education revenue and operating income grew due to an 8% increase in enrollment growth to 112.1 million from 103.8 million, as well as improved student retention.

Revenue from its newspaper publishing segment was up 1% to $491.9 million from $485.9 million. Its 3% decrease in print advertising revenue at The Washington Post, due to reductions in retail and classified advertising, was more than offset by the 14% gain in newspaper online revenues.

Cable television revenue increased 2% for the first nine months of 2010 to $568.6 million from $559.8 million due to growth in the division's cable modem and telephone revenues. Cable division operating income increased 4% to $126.6 million from $122.1 million due to the division's revenue growth, offset by increased technical and sales costs.

-- Written by Theresa McCabe in Boston.

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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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