Washington Post Co.’s ‘Mariano Rivera’ Saves the Day

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — The New York Yankees have Mariano Rivera, the reliable closer who strides out of the bullpen and saves the day. Likewise, the Washington Post Co. has Kaplan, the dependable education division which covers up so many weaknesses.

On Friday morning, the Post /quotes/comstock/13*!wpo/quotes/nls/wpo (WPO 438.06, +6.06, +1.40%) said its third-quarter profit had jumped 69%, partly thanks to reduced losses at the flagship newspaper — and, of course, the usual help from its Kaplan education division, The cable businesses chipped in, too.

The Post said it earned $17.1 million, or $1.81 a share, on $1.14 billion in revenue, compared with $10.4 million, or $1.08 a share, on $1.12 billion, in revenue in the third quarter of the previous year.

Meanwhile, the newspaper division lost $23.6 million, bringing the 2009 losses to $166.7 million, against losses of $178.3 million in the first nine months of 2008.

Kaplan, as usual, proved to be the parent’s largest revenue generator. The education business, including education campuses as well as test-preparation courses, posted $685 million in third-quarter revenue, or 60% of the Post Co.’s total.

It’s easy to take Kaplan for granted after so many quarters of consistent excellence. Eventually, of course, Rivera, the New York Yankees’ remarkable closer, will find that his skills will erode — and Kaplan’s performance may eventually slip as well.

When Rivera finally hangs up his spikes, the Yankees can retire Rivera’s jersey. If Kaplan faltered, the Post might have to retire the whole company.


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