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ONE SMALL STEP: It was a modest gain, but at least a gain. The New York Times Co. managed to eke out an increase in revenues for the first time in almost three years in the second quarter thanks to a circulation bump and increased online ad sales. The newspaper publisher said Thursday that total revenues in the three months were up 1.2 percent to $589.6 million. It last posted a better year-to-year top line in September 2007. Profits fell to $31.8 million from $39.1 million in the absence of a year-ago tax benefit, but the firm said earnings per share from continuing operations were 18 cents versus 8 cents in 2009.
Digital ad sales — which made up roughly one quarter of the company’s total ad revenues — were up 21.2 percent in the quarter while print sales fell 6.1 percent. Circulation revenues grew 3.2 percent. On a conference call with analysts, president and chief executive officer Janet Robinson said the ad market is improving and the publisher is still working to cut costs (code, perhaps, for more layoffs ahead).
“Our luxury advertisers are increasing their spending, as evidenced by the revenue growth we saw across our Web site in the quarter, including within our T: Style franchise,” Robinson said. Looking to emerging sources of income, the ceo said the company has a for-pay iPad app in development and is now in the process of building the pay wall it plans to implement at the Times’ Web site in 2011.
For all the talk of the digital future, Robinson couldn’t resist some old school newspaper warring when the subject of the call turned to the second-quarter launch of The Wall Street Journal’s Greater New York section (which reportedly was almost giving away ad pages in the launch phase). “We have not seen any impact in regard to advertising schedules and we have not seen any measurable impact in regard to circulation,” she said. “Anyone can look at the section and make their own judgment,” Robinson later added. Zing!
— Matthew Lynch