NY Times Co. Earnings Up 26%

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Updated at 3:40 p.m. Eastern Standard Time

(AP) The New York Times Co. said Monday its earnings rose 26% in the first quarter on higher advertising and circulation revenue and lower newsprint costs.

The publisher of The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and other newspapers said earnings rose to $68.8 million or 45 cents a share, in the three months ended March 31 from $54.5 million, or 35 cents a share, a year ago.

Excluding one-time items, its earnings amounted to 43 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call projected earnings of 42 cents a share.

Revenue rose 6.3% to $783.7 million from $737.1 million a year earlier.

In a statement, company President and CEO Russell Lewis said March advertising began to weaken because of the war. However, the company said the impact of the war on advertising has already begun to moderate although it will still affect second quarter results.

The company maintains earnings per share will grow in the mid-single digits to low-double digits this year.

Advertising revenue for the company grew 5% while circulation revenue rose 10% in the first quarter when compared with the same period in 2002.

Meanwhile, newsprint expenses fell 4% in the first quarter.

In addition to the Times and the Globe, the company owns the International Herald Tribune, 16 other newspapers, eight network-affiliated television stations, two New York City radio stations, and more than 40 Web sites.

New York Times Digital marked its 7th consecutive quarter of operating profit, $3.2 million in the first quarter compared with $0.2 million for the same period last year. Revenues for the new-media division grew 21.4% in the first quarter to $19.6 million.

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