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posted: 11/2/2012 10:47 AM

Washington Post reports profit gain as TV division sales grow

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Bloomberg News

Washington Post Co., the media company partly owned by billionaire Warren Buffett, reported a rise in third-quarter profit on improved revenue from its broadcast and cable television divisions.

Excluding items such as restructuring expenses, income from continuing operations rose 23 percent to $50.4 million, or $6.79 a share, from $40.9 million, or $5.18 a share, a year earlier, the company said today in a statement. Operating revenue was little changed at $1.01 billion.

Broadcast and cable television revenue helped make up for sluggish results at its other businesses, the company said. Its education unit has come under government scrutiny -- along with the rest of the for-profit education industry -- and faces increasing regulation. The Washington Post newspaper also is struggling to retain readers and hasn't capitalized on digital subscription programs that have benefited other major newspapers, including The New York Times.

Operating revenue at the broadcasting division jumped 44 percent to $106.4 million as the Olympics and election season boosted demand for advertising. The cable business climbed 6 percent to $199.6 million, the Washington-based company said.

Washington Post has moved to diversify its business beyond education and media to include health care. The company agreed last month to acquire a majority interest in Celtic Healthcare Inc., a provider of health care and hospice services in the Northeastern and mid-Atlantic. The move is in keeping with the company's strategy of operating a "diverse group of businesses," Chief Executive Officer Donald E. Graham said at the time.

Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is the company's largest shareholder, with a 28 percent stake, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Washington Post shares rose 1.8 percent to $339.45 yesterday at the close in New York. The stock has declined 9.9 percent this year.

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