By: Mark Fitzgerald
The New York Times Co. continued the string of rebounding newspaper financial results Thursday, reporting a net income of $12.8 million, or 8 cents a share, for the first quarter — a swing to profit from a year-ago loss of $74.45 million, or 52 cents a share.
Times Co. revenue was down 3.2%, a big improvement over the 11.5% decline the owner of The New York Times and Boston Globe reported in the fourth quarter of 2009.
Overall advertising dropped 6.1% to $313 million, reflecting a slowing rate of decline. In Q4 2009, ad revenue fell 14.7% year-over-year.
But print advertising, while improving, continued soft. The Times Co. said print ad revenue fell 12.3.
In its New Media Group, including its biggest papers, ad revenue declined in the single-digit range, falling 9.1%.
Advertising revenue at its About.com digital unit jumped 29.3% from the year before, the company said.
“In the first quarter, we experienced significant positive trending in both print and digital advertising revenues relative to the fourth quarter,” President and CEO Janet L. Robinson said. “As the quarter progressed we saw acceleration in the rate of advertiser spending across our newspapers, Web sites and other platforms, reflecting a firming of economic conditions.”
Circulation revenue ticked up 3.5% to $237 million as the effect of subscription and single-copy price increases took effect.
The Times Co. said its liquidity continued to improve, with more than $100 million cash on hand at the end of the quarter. The company also put $78 million in an underfunded pension plan in the quarter.
Debt has been reduced by about one third to $671 million from its balance at the beginning of 2009, the company said. The majority of its debt does not come due until 2015, the Times Co. noted.