A less lousy quarter for NY Times Co.


Q2 revenues were down 21% as ad sales fell 30% for the New York Times Company, but earnings, while down, still came in above expectations as the company succeeded in cutting costs. CEO Janet Robinson also touted divestitures to cut debt, including the pending $45 million sale of WQXR-FM NYC.

“While we continued to experience a very difficult economic climate in the quarter as well as secular changes affecting the entire media industry, we made significant progress in decreasing our cost base and reducing and restructuring our debt. Advertising revenues decreased across all major categories although the rate of decline lessened throughout the quarter. As we continue our transition from a company focused primarily on print to one that is increasingly digital in focus and multiplatform in delivery, online advertising revenues are a more important part of our mix. They made up 21% of our ad revenues in the quarter, up from 18% in the same period a year ago,” said Robinson.

And she proudly noted the company’s efforts to reduce its debt load. “During the first half of the year, we reduced the level of our debt by approximately $45 million from our 2008 year-end balance. We plan to continue to lower the amount of outstanding debt with cash flow from operations and proceeds from divestitures, including the recently announced agreement to sell our New York City radio station, WQXR-FM, and the potential sale of our interest in New England Sports Ventures, which includes the Boston Red Sox and New England Sports Network, a highly rated regional cable channel,” Robinson said. She made no mention of efforts to sell the Boston Globe, although that is hardly a secret to anyone.

In Q2, the New England Media Group, anchored by the Boston Globe, actually did better on the revenue side than the other parts of the company. Its revenues were down 19.2%, with ad revenues off 31.1%. The New York Times Media Group, anchored by the namesake newspaper (and including, for now, WQXR), saw revenues decline 21.8%, with ad sales off 31.7%. The Regional Media Group, consisting of the smaller newspapers owned by the company, saw revenues decline 25.6%, with ads off 33.4%. About Group, the Internet operations not associated with local newspapers, did much better, with revenues off only 3.1%, but that was only $25.9 million out of a company grand total of $317.3 million.

Net income for the quarter was $39 million, or 27 cents per share, up from $21.1 million, or 15 cents per share a year ago. Excluding one-time items, the earnings per share for Q2 2009 was eight cents, which was a big surprise to Wall Street, where a loss had been expected. That unexpected good news sent the NY Times Company’s battered stock price back up, but only a little bit. Investors are still nervous about the newspaper business.