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New York Times Tops Q4 Forecasts: Digital Gains, Price Hikes Overcome Print Declines

Paper of record adds 53,000 net new paid digital-only subscribers these three months

The New York Times Company relied on digital growth and some price increases to offset print business declines — and it worked, at least, this quarter.

The newspaper of record reported earnings per share (EPS) of $0.31 on a diluted basis, or $0.37 on an adjusted basis. Sales were $444.7 million, which was perfectly flat with the prior year’s fourth quarter.

At the top line, overall Circulation and Advertising perfectly offset each other for Q4. Drilling down a bit further, fourth-quarter print advertising revenue decreased 6.6 percent, but digital advertising revenue increased 10.6 percent.

Wall Street expected EPS of $0.30 on $439.57 in revenue, per Yahoo Finance. Zacks predicted EPS would come in at a penny less. Either way, NYT topped those benchmarks.

“We ended the year with a solid quarter, with strong growth in adjusted operating profit and digital advertising and consumer revenue, and the addition of 53,000 net new paid digital-only subscribers, the largest number of new subscribers in a quarter in three years,” President and CEO Mark Thompson said in a statement accompanying the financials. “We also succeeded in significantly reducing our costs.”

“Overall, 2015 was a year of progress across the business. From the launch of virtual reality, continued growth in T Brand Studio, enhancement of mobile ad products, reimagined print sections and the delivery of consistently excellent journalism, we laid the groundwork for continued digital growth.”

At the bottom line, profit rose 48.2 percent — an increase of about $17.2 million for the final fiscal quarter of 2015. Across the whole year, the news there was even better, with income up about $30 million — or 89.9 percent.

NYT stock closed yesterday at $12.77 per share. The U.S. trading markets were set to ring their opening bell one hour after the New York Times Company reported its numbers.

Senior management will hold an investor call to discuss the financial results at 11 a.m. ET on Thursday.