NY Times Co. Profits Up 3% in Q4

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(AP) A stronger-than-expected rise in December advertising led to a 3% increase in The New York Times Co.’s fourth-quarter earnings, the company reported Tuesday.

The company, which also publishes The Boston Globe (Click for QuikCap) and the International Herald Tribune, earned $110.9 million in the last three months of 2003, compared with $107.5 million in the same period a year ago.

Per-share earnings rose to 73 cents versus 69 cents in the year-ago period, exceeding the 70 cents per share estimate of Wall Street analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call.

Revenues rose 5% to $882.3 million from $840.2 million.

Leonard Forman, the company’s chief financial officer, said fourth-quarter earnings were higher than anticipated largely because of a 4.2% advertising increase in December, excluding the International Herald Tribune, which the company took full ownership of in January 2003.

Forman said that advertising was off to a “somewhat slow start” in 2004, but he said the company would be well positioned to benefit from a rebound in advertising thanks in part to a national expansion strategy.

For the full year, net earnings rose 1% to $302.7 million, or $1.98 a share, from $299.8 million, or $1.94 per share, in 2002. Full-year revenues rose 5% to $3.23 billion from $3.08 billion in 2002.

In addition to the Times (Click for QuikCap), The Boston Globe and the International Herald Tribune, the company publishes 16 other newspapers and owns eight network-affiliated television stations.

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