New York Times Co. Cost-Cutting Leads to 4Q Profit

Double-digit growth in digital advertising helps offset print slide

The New York Times Company said on Wednesday that its cost-cutting efforts during the fourth quarter last year paid off, helping the company increase its profit 10.9 percent and reduce its debt load.

Total revenues were down 11.5 percent (to $681.2 million) during the last three months of 2009, although that was better than the 16.9 percent decline during the third quarter.

That slide was due, primarily, to lower print advertising.

The company’s total advertising revenues declined approximately 15 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2008, and 20 percent in print. That slide was partially was offset by growth in digital advertising, which rose about 11 percent – though mainly at About.com. (Online advertising at its News Media Group increased 4.1 percent.)

Despite the “challenging” advertising climate, NYT Co. president Janet Robinson said there are signs that the ad market is finally coming back. “We were pleased to see advertisers increase their rate of spending across our newspapers, Web sites and other platforms as advertising trends improved during the fourth quarter,” she said.

The company’s circulation revenues increased 2 percent during the fourth quarter, due to higher subscription and newsstand prices for the New York Times and Boston Globe.

Robinson said she expects print advertising “to improve modestly from the fourth quarter of 2009” to the first quarter 2010, while digital advertising is “expected to perform in line with the fourth-quarter level.”

The Times said that the cost of developing its paid online model, scheduled to debut in 2011, is “modest.”

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