New York Times 1st quarter earnings beat expectations

The New York Times | The New York Times Company
The New York Times Company reported income of 28 cents per share and a decline of .3 percent in total revenue for the first quarter of 2012, the company announced today. Analysts had estimated earnings of 2 cents per share and expected an 11.7 percent decrease in revenue.

70 percent of the increase, Amy Chozick writes, comes from the Times Co.’s sale of its Regional Media Group; “Income from continuing operations was $13 million, or 9 cents a share.” Print advertising revenue was down 7.2 percent; digital advertising revenue was down 10.3 percent. The latter figure is an echo of the Washington Post’s fourth-quarter results, in which online advertising revenue fell 15 percent; a company press release says the decline is “largely due to declines at the About Group,” which it says “has continued to face many of the headwinds experienced through much of 2011, although it saw a modest improvement in the first quarter in its display advertising business following the rebuilding of About.com’s sales team.”

Still, the release says, “The New York Times and New England Media Groups both experienced declines in print and digital advertising in the quarter.”

Circulation revenues are up:

Paid subscribers to the Web site, e-reader and other digital editions of The Times and The International Herald Tribune reached approximately 454,000 as of March 18, up 16 percent from the end of the fourth quarter of 2011. Paid subscriptions to The Boston Globe’s e-reader and replica editions and BostonGlobe.com were up 13 percent, to about 18,000.

The price hike for subscriptions and newsstand copies of the paper, the release says, “offset a decline in print copies sold across the News Media Group.”

Former CEO Janet Robinson’s compensation package, Chozick reports, “did not factor into the company’s first-quarter results.”

How are things at the Boston Globe?

Fourth quarter earnings at the New York Times Company’s New England Media Group, which includes the Boston Globe and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, were down 7.7 percent over the previous year. Today’s first-quarter results show the same group down 5.2 percent over 2011, while the mothership is up 2.9 percent over the same period.

At the New England group, advertising revenue was down 12.2 percent, circulation revenue was down 4 percent, and “other,” which includes commercial printing and direct mail advertising services, was actually up 23 percent year to year.

In January, the Globe began printing the Boston Herald. A report at the time said the move would save the Herald on labor costs and give the Globe more “printing and delivery work, a growing part of its business.” It certainly has grown, although there are substantial additional production costs.

Digital subscriptions to the Boston Globe were up 13 percent since the last quarter; it had “approximately 18,000 as of March 18, 2012.” (It had about 16,000 at the end of the last quarter.)

The New York Times has explored selling the Globe several times. Last year Rick Edmonds wrote about why the most recent high-profile bid for the paper, from young greeting-card entrepreneur Aaron Kushner, probably wouldn’t amount to anything. So far, it hasn’t.

And yet the New England Media Group’s earnings are not wildly better than the Regional Media Group’s earnings were when it was sold.

The New York Times Company News Media Group
2011-2012 Revenues by Operating Segment (Dollars in thousands)
Group 4th quarter 2011 % change vs. 2010 1st quarter 2012 % change vs. 2011
The New York Times Media Group
(New York Times & IHT)
$442,952 0.5% $384,049 2.9%
New England Media Group
(Boston & Worcester)
$104,443 -7.7% $91,383 -5.2%
Regional Media Group
(now sold)
$69,449 -4.2% NA NA

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