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Washington Post posts profit, education unit strong

By Jennifer Saba

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Washington Post Co posted a quarterly profit on Friday, aided by gains at its educational, cable and television divisions.

Increases at these units more than offset declines at the company's newspaper and magazine properties, victims of a persisting decline in circulation and advertising revenue.

The company reported first-quarter net income of $45.4 million, or $4.91 per share, compared with a net loss of $19.2 million, or $2.04 per share, a year earlier.

Earlier this week, the Washington Post Co said it plans to sell Newsweek, which has been losing money for several years and is on track to lose $20 million this year.

Revenue at its magazine publishing division fell 36 percent to $29.4 million on advertising declines of 38 percent at Newsweek. Revenue for Budget Travel magazine is included in the year-ago comparison. The company sold the magazine in December to Fletcher Asset Management for an undisclosed sum.

Like its newspaper peers, the company reported moderating declines in print advertising revenue at its flagship Washington Post newspaper, down 8 percent to $68.7 million because of continued weakness in the general and retail advertising categories.

Online revenue, which includes primarily washingtonpost.com and Slate, increased 8 percent to $23.7 million on the strength of display revenue, up 17 percent. Online classified advertising revenue at the washingtonpost.com slipped 13 percent.

Daily circulation at the Washington Post fell 13 percent to 578,482 copies for the six months ending March 2010, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Total newspaper revenue, which includes the company's community papers, fell 3 percent to $155.8 million, but the division's operating loss narrowed. In the first quarter, the division recorded a loss of $13.8 million versus a loss of $53.8 million in the year-ago period.

Revenue at its educational unit, which includes the Kaplan test preparation, advanced 20 percent to $593.5 million while cable unit revenue rose 3 percent to $189.4 million.

Broadcast TV revenue increased 20 percent to $73.5 million on improved conditions in all markets and on advertising related to the Winter Olympics and politics.

Shares of the Washington Post are down 3 percent at $473.76, in morning trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Jennifer Saba; Editing by Derek Caney and Steve Orlofsky)

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