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The New York Times Co. Net Income Falls 26 Percent

Fourth quarter profits down as ”advertiser caution about the economy and consumer spending“ increased

The New York Times Company had a rough fourth quarter.

The company said on Thursday that its net income fell more than 26 percent during the fourth quarter, as advertising fell, dragging overall revenues down about 3 percent.

"The advertising marketplace was volatile during the quarter,” chief executive Janet Robinson said in discussing the results.  “The progress we made on the print advertising front in October and November was not sustained in December due to a combination of difficult year-over-year comparisons and advertiser caution about the economy and consumer spending."

Although digital advertising grew 11 percent, it could not fully offset the 7 percent decline in print advertising revenues in the fourth quarter, she said. That's another reason why the Times appears to be pinning its hopes on the forthcoming paywall for its flagship's website — the details of which the company have yet to formally announce.

"We intend to release our pay model soon and will release more details on price and gate placement in the near future," Robinson said Thursday.

Net income was $67.1 million (or 44 cents per share) during the quarter, compared to $90.9 million (61 cents per share) last year.

Robinson added: "We have remained focused on diversifying our revenues and strengthening our digital businesses.” Digital advertising accounted for more than a quarter of the company's total advertising revenues in the fourth quarter.

She also praised the company’s cost management. "During the fourth quarter we maintained our relentless focus on managing costs to mitigate the effects that the ongoing transformation of our industry and an uneven economic recovery had on our operating performance.”

For the full year, net income $107.7 million was up more than five-fold over 2009, when its profit was just $19.9 million.