Earnings: Washington Post, Warner Music

Earnings: Washington Post | Warner Music

Washington Post Reports Increased Profit

WASHINGTON - (AP) - The Washington Post Co. (WPO) reported a 16 percent increase in first-quarter profits Friday, fueled by increasing revenues in its online publishing and education divisions.

Earnings after preferred dividends rose to $76.4 million, or $7.95 per share, up from $66.1 million, or $6.87 per share, a year earlier. Revenue grew 14 percent to $948.3 million from $833.9 million.

The latest results included a 53-cent-per-share charge from accounting related to stock-based compensation, while the year-ago period included gains of 56 cents per share from land and securities sales.

Despite a decline in both daily and Sunday circulation, the newspaper publishing division revenue totaled $243.5 million for the first quarter of 2006, a 4 percent increase from the first quarter of 2005.

Washington Post reported a boost in revenue from its online publishing activities, which increased 34 percent to $22.8 million from $17.0 million. The increase was largely due to 58 percent growth in local and national online advertising revenues. Online classified advertising on washingtonpost.com also increased 24 percent.

Revenue for the magazine publishing division totaled $74.8 million, up 7 percent from $69.9 million a year earlier. However, that revenue increase was offset by a drop in subscriptions and circulation at Newsweek magazine.

Revenue for the broadcast division rose 8 percent to $85.9 million from $79.3 million. Cable division revenue of $135.2 million was up 7 percent.

Education division revenue totaled $408.9 million, a 26 percent increase over revenue of $325.4 million for the first quarter of 2005.

The company's shares rose $3.60 to $757.60 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

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Warner Music Posts Narrower Than Expected Loss

NEW YORK(Reuters) - Warner Music Group Corp. (WMG), which earlier this week rejected a $4.2 billion takeover bid by EMI Group Plc., Friday posted a narrower-than-expected loss, helped by rising U.S. CD sales and digital revenues.

Analysts said the strong growth by Warner Music will put pressure on EMI to raise its $28.50-per-share bid.

"The numbers are very strong, significantly better than we and investors were expecting," said Richard Greenfield analyst at Pali Research. "It bodes well for renewed vigor from EMI to make a higher offer."

Warner Music, the fourth largest music company and home to such acts as Madonna and Green Day, posted a net loss of $7 million, or 5 cents a share, in the second quarter, versus a net profit of $4 million a year earlier.

But on a diluted basis, the company posted a year-earlier loss of 28 cents a share, despite the bottom-line profit which was due to unrealized gains of $39 million on warrants issued to former parent Time Warner Inc. (TWX) that were recognized in net income, but excluded from the earnings per share.

Analysts polled by Reuters Estimates on average expected a net loss of 15 cents.

Revenue rose 3.8 percent to $796 million from $767 million a year earlier. In the fast-growing digital segment, the company posted revenue of $90 million, nearly triple a year earlier and representing 11 percent of quarterly revenue.

Laura Martin analyst Soleil Media Metrics said the revenue figures were "excellent" compared to the industry average. "It means EMI's got to pay between $30 to $33 a share."

Warner Music said its major sellers during the quarter included Madonna, James Blunt and Sean Paul helping to push U.S. recorded music revenue up by 22 percent.

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