It isn't often that a company admits that its recent big revenue jump is owed, at least partially, to an especially lackluster quarter during the prior year. But that's just the kind of straight talk we've come to expect from The Washington Post Co.
The 19% rise in revenues, to $759 million, is owed in large part to a turnaround in the advertising business, a rising tide that has lifted peers and competitors, like Gannett
But the big gain at the Post was also fueled by oversized increases from the firm's up-and-coming education division, which posted 45% gains and now represents the largest chunk of the revenue pie. If only education's 8% operating margins were closer to the 14.6% put up by the newspaper division.
At first glance, the $6.15 per share on the bottom line looks slimmer than last year's $7.59. But the prior-year period benefited from a onetime perk of $3.38 per share. In this case, the current quarter's 33% jump in operating income might prove a better metric of the Post's recent growth.
You can't help but be impressed with the way the company is outrunning its rivals, but the stock's valuation, at a trailing P/E near 40, looks too rich to me. I would file this one on the watch list, and see if our good friend, the panicky, nearsighted market, offers a more reasonable buying opportunity in the future.
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