New York Times Operating Profits Shrink in Q4

Company ends 2018 with $709 million in total digital revenue and shoots at 10 million subscriptions by 2025, CEO Mark Thompson says

The New York Times’ fourth quarter earnings report showed a mostly healthy balance sheet closing out 2018, but revealed that operating profits for the quarter were down millions of dollars from the same point in 2017.

“Operating profit decreased to $74.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2018 from $90.5 million in the same period of 2017 and adjusted operating profit,” the company told shareholders in a press statement Wednesday. “Adjusted diluted earnings per share from continuing operations … was $.32 in the fourth quarter of 2018 compared with $.38 in the fourth quarter of 2017.”

In a statement, company president and CEO Mark Thompson instead focused on the growth of digital revenue and reiterated the Times’ lofty subscriptions goals going into the next decade.

“We ended 2018 with $709 million in total digital revenue. This means that after just three years, we are already three quarters of the way to achieving our five-year goal of doubling digital revenue to $800 million by 2020,” he said. “As a result we are setting ourselves a new goal — to grow our subscription business to more than 10 million subscriptions by 2025.”

Subscription growth has been an unadulterated bright spot for the paper, as paywalls begin cropping up around the entire media industry. In their last quarter earnings report, the Times revealed a total of four million print and digital subscribers. 

“Our appeal to subscribers — and to the world’s leading advertisers — depends more than anything on the quality of our journalism,” Thompson said. “That is why we have increased, rather than cut back, our investment in our newsroom and opinion departments. We want to accelerate our digital growth further, so in 2019, we will direct fresh investment into journalism, product and marketing.”

The company said the decline was “principally due to the benefit from an extra week in the Company’s 2017 fiscal calendar and higher costs in 2018.”