NY Times profit soars on asset sales

The New York Times Co. said Thursday that first-quarter profit jumped sevenfold, boosted largely by the sale of its regional newspapers and shares in a New England sports group.

The company, which owns The Boston Globe, International Herald Tribune and About.com in addition to the flagship newspaper The New York Times, reported net income of $42.1 million, or 28 cents a share, in the first quarter of the year.

That compared with the year-ago period's profit of $5.4 million, or four cents a share.

Almost 70 percent of the first-quarter profit resulted from the January sale of Regional Media Group, which groups 16 newspapers. The sale brought in $140 million in cash.

Revenue slipped 0.3 percent in the first quarter, to $499.4 million, under pressure from a steep 23.1 percent drop in sales in its About Group online business.

The company's News Media Group saw revenue increase by 1.3 percent.

Advertising revenue fell 8.1 percent, while circulation increased 9.7 percent.

"The uneven US economic environment and uncertain global conditions continued to present challenges to the advertising marketplace," said Arthur Sulzberger, chairman and chief executive, in a statement.

Like other US newspapers, The New York Times has been struggling with declining print advertising revenue, falling circulation and the migration of readers to free news online.

The Times began charging in March 2011 for full access to NYTimes.com and it launched a subscription-only website for the Boston Globe in October.

Sulzberger noted that digital advertising revenues at the News Media Group were under pressure in the first two months of the year, resulting in a decline of 2.0 percent for the first quarter.

But he stressed the company's digital strategy, which has expanded the subscription base, was paying off.

Sulzberger said that paid subscriptions to all of the company's digital packages, e-readers and replica editions totaled roughly 472,000 as of March 18.

"This confirms once again the validity of our digital strategy, which has provided a successful model for the industry. Our readers have embraced digital subscriptions and we expect to build on this strong start as we embark on our second year of digital paid subscriptions."

Investors welcomed the quarterly results, pushing shares up 5.4 percent to $6.44 in opening New York trade.

  • Driving a $900,000 Porsche 918 Spyder to the future 1 hour 15 minutes ago
    Driving a $900,000 Porsche 918 Spyder to the future

    It’s more than just its inherent speed, or the whooshing noise that fills the cabin like a school choir jamming with James Hetfield. It’s what it represents in an industry full of skeptics. It’s a portal into the future – a time capsule left by some mad scientist born decades too soon. It’s something that shouldn’t exist. And yet it does.

  • 919 reasons to love: Flickr photo of the day 2 hours 28 minutes ago
    919 reasons to love: Flickr photo of the day

    We've brought you the drive video of the $900,000 Porsche 918 Spyder -- an 887-hp hybrid supercar with two electric motors working in harmony with a big 4.6-liter V-8. But how about this? Porsche's hybrid Le Mans racer -- the 919 Hybrid, sent to us by Kevin Leech. Get on board with electrification, folks. Because it's taking over the world.

  • Watch a man drive his three-wheeled Mustang along a Texas highway 8 hours ago
    Watch a man drive his three-wheeled Mustang along a Texas highway

    Some things in life are hard to explain, like why a dentist insists on asking you questions when you clearly can't respond. Or why we call pants "a pair" even though it's just one. Or how about this puzzler: Why a person would drive their Mustang along a Texas highway despite it missing a wheel? Life is full of little mysteries, I guess.

  • Singaporeans slam NEA's $120 licence requirement for tissue sellers
    Singaporeans slam NEA's $120 licence requirement for tissue sellers

    Singaporeans on social media reacted angrily to news that tissue sellers at hawker centres and street corners are being required to pay for an annual licence.

  • Heartbreaking texts from students on sinking S. Korea ferry
    Heartbreaking texts from students on sinking S. Korea ferry

    Heart-wrenching messages of fear, love and despair, sent by high school students from a sinking South Korean ferry, added extra emotional weight Thursday to a tragedy that has stunned the nation. Nearly 300 people -- most of them students on a high school trip to a holiday island -- are still missing after the ferry capsized and sank on Wednesday morning. Mom, I love you," student Shin Young-Jin said in a text to his mother that was widely circulated in the South Korean media.

  • Indonesia’s armed forces chief says “no apology” for warship’s name
    Indonesia’s armed forces chief says “no apology” for warship’s name

    General Moeldoko, the head of Indonesia’s Armed Forces, has clarified that he had not apologised for the naming of a warship after two Indonesian marines who had been involved in the 1965 MacDonald House bombing in Singapore.