New York Times Shares Fall on Decline in Advertising Revenue

(Bloomberg) -
The New York Times building on 8th Ave. and 42nd Street in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
The New York Times building on 8th Ave. and 42nd Street in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

New York Times Co. shares fell the most in more than two months as the newspaper publisher reported a decline in both print and digital advertising in the first quarter.

The stock slid 3.7 percent to $12.41 at 10:45 a.m. in New York, and dropped as much as 4.4 percent, the biggest intraday decline since Feb. 24. The company, which reported first-quarter results Tuesday, said total ad sales fell 6.8 percent, dragged down by a 9 percent drop in print ad sales and a 1.3 decrease in digital ad sales.

In a statement, Times CEO Mark Thompson attributed the lower ad sales to “conditions impacting the entire advertising marketplace.” Total ad revenue in the current period will decrease at a similar rate to the first quarter, the company said.

The Times is trying to boost online advertising and subscriptions to offset the decline of print advertising and readership. Its digital advertising strategy is based partly on creating sponsored content, or marketing messages in the form of articles or videos. This week, the Times unveiled six new original video series on topics like music, sports and travel and will sell advertisers on creating videos for them based on the series’ themes.

The share decline came even as the Times posted first-quarter earnings that beat analysts’ estimates by adding the most digital subscribers in more than three years. The company signed up 67,000 new digital customers in the quarter, compared with 47,000 a year earlier and 53,000 in the fourth quarter.

The newspaper aims to double its online sales in the next four years largely by increasing paid online subscribers overseas. The company said last month it will invest $50 million over the next three years to increase its digital audience around the world.

The Times generated $400 million in revenue through online advertising and subscriptions in 2014 and aims to bring in $800 million by 2020.

– Profit excluding some items was 10 cents a share. Analysts projected 8 cents, the average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue of $379.5 million compared with analysts’ estimates of $377.5 million.

– Revenue from digital-only subscriptions increased 14.2 percent to $54.2 million.

– The Times now has about 1.36 million paying digital subscribers to its online news and crossword products.

– Operating expenses were little changed at $351.6 million.

– The Times reported a net loss of $8.3 million, or 5 cents a share, compared with a loss of $14.3 million, or 9 cents, a year earlier.