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New York Times posts ho-hum numbers, slow digital growth

Jeff John Roberts

The New York Times Company posted earnings on Thursday morning that show the company’s ongoing struggle to create significant growth in its digital operations. While circulation revenues continue to rise, all forms of advertising are in decline and overall revenue is shrinking.

The company posted earnings per share of 32 cents (excluding special items) which is about what analysts predicted. Compared to the same 13-week period from a year ago, total revenues decreased 0.7 percent, with advertising revenues down 8.3 percent and circulation revenues up 8.6 percent.

The circulation revenues should, in theory, be a bright spot for the Times but it’s not possible to tell how much of that 8.6 percent comes from new digital revenue and how much from an increase in the price of the print edition (the Times doesn’t break out these numbers).

The company now has about 640,000 digital subscribers to the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune, which is a 13-percent increase from the previous quarter. Meanwhile, the Boston Globe now has 28,000 subscribers to its various digital editions which is an eight-percent increase.

The bottom line here is that this is the same old story for the New York Times company: it is shedding revenue, assets and longtime staff faster than it can build up a new digital business.

An earnings call later today will feature the company’s new CEO, the BBC-transplant Mark Thompson who may offer some guidance to where the company is going. We will post highlights from the call in the early afternoon.

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