New York Times Shares Gain as Loss Narrows Amid Digital Jump

Publisher Makes 'Meaningful Progress' In Search for New CEO

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The New York Times Co., the newspaper publishing company, posted a net loss was $88.1 million, or 60 cents a share, compared with a net loss of $119.7 million, or 79 cents, in the same period a year earlier, the New York-based company said today in a statement.

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Excluding some items, profit was 14 cents, topping the average analyst estimate of 13 cents, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The company recorded an estimated non-cash, after-tax charge of $126.1 million, or 85 cents per share, during the period for the write down of goodwill at the About Group, which produces how-to videos and articles online. The site has lost traffic and advertising.

The narrower loss came after the company sold its stake in Fenway Sports Group, owner of the Boston Red Sox, for a total of $93 million this year. The publisher still owns the Boston Globe and Worcester Telegram & Gazette newspapers.

Shares of The New York Times Co. rose the most in more than nine months after reporting a narrower loss in the second quarter amid a gain in digital subscriptions.

Times Co. advanced 9.8% to $7.74 at 12:17 p.m. in New York, after earlier jumping 13% for the biggest intraday gain since Oct. 6. The shares were down 8.8% this year through yesterday.

Digital subscriptions at The New York Times Co.'s flagship paper and the International Herald Tribune reached 509,000 in the second quarter.

Times Co., looking for a chief executive with digital expertise, has accelerated its shift to the internet as print-advertising declines, offloading assets and tightening its focus on The New York Times media brand. Digital subscriptions to the New York Times and International Herald Tribune newspapers rose 12% from the prior quarter and 81% from a year earlier, the company said today in a statement.

The company's board has made "meaningful progress" in the search for a new chief executive and will "have more to share" by the end of September, chairman and interim CEO Arthur Sulzberger Jr., said.

"Our new CEO must have strong business and digital management skills; must understand the power of brands; and must be able to successfully lead the launch of products critical to our future," he told analysts on a conference call today after the company reported its results.

Times Co. has been without a chief executive since Janet Robinson was ousted in December.

Digital subscriptions at Times Co.'s flagship paper and the International Herald Tribune reached 509,000 in the second quarter. The so-called paywall is estimated to bring in about $90 million this year and $125 million next year, Douglas Arthur, an analyst with Evercore Partners, said before the results were announced.

Total sales rose 0.6% to $515.2 million, topping analysts' average estimate of $511 million.

Print ad revenue decreased 8%, while digital ad sales dropped 4%, led by declines at the About Group, according to the statement.

"The stock jump is justified," Evercore's Mr. Arthur said in a telephone interview after the results were released. "Cost controls are strong and everything is stabilizing," said Arthur, who recommends the shares.

--Bloomberg News--

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