The McGraw-Hill Co. posted a jump in fourth-quarter profit Tuesday, boosted by cost cutting and higher revenue at its Standard & Poor's and education businesses.
The recession pounded McGraw-Hill last year. Declines in advertising and sales of education materials hit across McGraw-Hill's business units. The company shed about 550 workers and sold BusinessWeek magazine to Bloomberg LP.
It also saw heavy government scrutiny of its S&P ratings business, which many blame along with the other ratings agencies for contributing to the financial crisis by giving good credit ratings to mortgage-backed securities that later went sour. In a conference call with analysts Tuesday, the company said compliance costs in 2009 were $20 million higher than the year before and it projected a similar increase for 2010.
But the company said fourth-quarter results improved as new corporate debt offerings boosted profits at S&P. And its higher education business benefited from more people enrolling in college and professional studies courses in a weak job market.
Picking up on the fever-pitch speculation about a new tablet computer from Apple Inc., McGraw-Hill CEO Harold McGraw said, "You will undoubtedly see a McGraw-Hill e-book for the college market running on an Apple tablet."
The company said it earned $167.3 million, or 53 cents per share during the three months ended Dec. 31. That's up 44 percent from $115.9 million, or 37 cents per share, a year ago. The most recent quarter included a one-time gain from the BusinessWeek sale of $10.5 million, or 2 cents per share.
Revenue climbed 3 percent to $1.46 billion.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, who typically exclude one-time losses or gains, expected 40 cents per share and sales of $1.4 billion.
Shares rose 83 cents, or 2.5 percent, to close at $34.23.
For all of 2009, the company earned $730.5 million, or $2.33 per share, compared with $799.5 million, or $2.51 per share. Revenue fell to $5.95 billion from $6.36 billion.
Looking ahead, McGraw-Hill projected full-year earnings of $2.55 to $2.65 per share. Analysts expect $2.56.