Web, Broadcast Are Bright Spots for NY Times Co.

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(AP) The New York Times Co. Tuesday said advertising revenue declined 0.3% in February and warned that first-quarter earnings may fall short of analyst expectations.

The newspaper publisher also said its first-quarter revenue is expected to be “on par” with the same period last year.

The company now projects first-quarter earnings of 33 cents to 36 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call had forecast, on average, earnings of 44 cents a share on sales of $813.9 million.

In the first quarter last year, the company earned 45 cents a share, including one-time gains amounting to 7 cents a share, on revenue of $783.7 million.

February ad sales fell 2.7% at the group that includes The New York Times and the International Herald Tribune. Declines in national technology and entertainment advertising outpaced growth in retail ad spending. Classified revenue remained steady.

The story was much the same at the company’s New England group, which includes The Boston Globe and the Worcester (Mass.) Telegram & Gazette, where advertising revenue slipped 1.5% in February. Retail advertising declined overall, offsetting gains in help-wanted ads.

Regional newspaper group advertising rose 1.7%, as gains in national and classified advertising more than offset a decline in retail advertising.

The company’s bright spots continue to be its Web and broadcast groups, which saw February advertising climb 36.9% and 5.2%, respectively. New York Times Digital gains were driven by increases in display and classified ad revenue on nytimes.com, while the company attributed broadcast’s improvement to increased political advertising.

Chief Financial Officer Leonard Forman said in a release that February help-wanted advertising revenue grew 7.7%, “reflecting gains at each of our three newspaper groups for the first time since September 2000.”

Class A shares of the company were at $44.85 in midday trading Tuesday, down 20 cents on the New York Stock Exchange.

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