Advertising Revenue Declines at NYT Co. Moderate in Q4, Digital Swings Positive

By: Jennifer Saba

The New York Times Co. reported its earnings per share as 44 cents in Q4, compared with 36 cents for the same period a year ago.

Total revenue at the company fell 11.5 % year-over-year in Q4, showing an improvement in the rate of ad revenue declines. In Q3, total revenue dropped 16.9%.

Advertising revenue decreased 15% year-over-year on gains made in digital revenue. Print revenue during the quarter skidded 20%, while online advertising revenue advanced 11%.

The company reported gains in circulation revenue, up 2% in Q4 due to price increases at its flagship and The Boston Globe.

New York Times Co. CEO Janet Robinson signaled that trends should improve over the course of the year. “In the first quarter of 2010, we expect the rate of decline for print advertising to continue to improve modestly from the fourth quarter 2009, while digital advertising is expected to perform in line with the fourth-quarter level,” she said.

Revenue at the About Group jumped 23% in Q4 on the strength of cost-per-click at display advertising.

The Times Co. slashed operating costs 16.3% during Q4, totaling $475 million for the full year. The company has been chipping away at its debt, now at $769 million from its 2008 year-end balance of $1 billion.

By group, advertising revenue at the New York Times Media Group was down 14.1%. At the New England Media Group it declined 20.3%. At the Regional Medial Group it fell 26.1%.

The company noted some special items during the quarter, including a $4.2 million write-down due to the “reduced scope of a systems project.” The company recognized a $56.7 million pension curtailment gain.

For more on the earnings call, go here to Fitz & Jen.

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