NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The New York Times Company has ended the slide, reporting a slight uptick in advertising after more than two years of decline.
Driven in part by a 21% gain in its digital advertising business, the Times Co. reported quarterly revenue of $589.6 million, a 1.2% increase from the same period last year. Income from print advertising, however, dropped 6.1%, which was the same percentage decrease the company saw the previous quarter, indicating continued erosion of the print ad market.
"While we experienced month-to-month volatility, we saw firming in advertising spending," CEO Janet Robinson said in the company's earnings call. Ms. Robinson further noted that controlling costs will remain an important factor to the company's overall performance.
Net profit was down 18.7% to $31.8 million, but the company recorded a one-time tax benefit of $37.7 million in that same period last year, which accounts for the large decline. Operating profit, which is a better indicator of performance for a media company, was up to $60.8 million, compared to $23.5 million for the same period last year.
Like most media companies, the Times Co.'s business has fallen or remained flat for some time, and it hasn't been back to its 2000 levels when the news giant neared $3.5 billion in annual income. The New York Times Co. publishes the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the International Herald Tribune as well as 15 other daily newspapers, and it is seen as a bellwether of the news media industry. Gannett Co., publisher of USA Today, reported last week that its ad revenue fell 5.7%.
But like Gannett Co., the Times has taken aggressive steps into the digital sphere, releasing an ad-supported app for the iPad in conjunction with that product's launch back in May. Called Editors' Choice, the Times' app featured blue-chip sponsors Chase and Chanel. But despite the company's growth in digital advertising Ms. Robinson said the Times will launch a paid-for app for the iPad sometime soon, though she did not indicate a date. "[It's] part of our overall paid strategy," she said, pointing to the company's plans to begin charging for access to its online content. The company is planning to institute the pay wall in 2011.
Online advertising represented one of the company's biggest gains on the balance sheet, currently representing 26% of the Times' overall advertising income. Still, the company warned that growth will slow next quarter. Digital ad revenue will only gain in "the mid to high teens," while print advertising is expected to recover. A shift to pay walls for its electronic products such as the website and iPad app could also slow digital ad growth.
Ms. Robinson noted the addition of new content partner 538.com, the polling outfit run by Nate Silver, as well as the appointment of former Vogue staffer Sally Singer to head the company's luxury advertising vehicle T Magazine. Stefano Tonchi left T in March to run Conde Nast-owned W Magazine.
Newsstand revenue increased 3.2% to $234.8 million, but that will become less of a factor moving ahead, as these latest gains are the result of price increases for the New York Times and Boston Globe that were instituted last year.
The company's stock price has slid 30% since January.