The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

What Everyone Is Talking About ... At Time Inc.

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NEW YORK ( -- After occasional lapses in recent years, Time Inc. Chairman-CEO Ann S. Moore is back to updating staffers every quarter -- but employees could have used seat belts while reading this morning's internal memo, which whip-lashed from ominous portents to gloriously good news and back again more than a few times.
Ann S. Moore got back to sending out e-mails today.
Ann S. Moore got back to sending out e-mails today.

"We expect our full-year performance to be below 2005," Ms. Moore said in the first paragraph. The company produced modest gains in the third quarter but is still fighting weak advertising at some big books.

More happily, Ms. Moore pointed out that Time Inc. remains the country's top consumer magazine publisher. And it's making strides online. and recorded their biggest months ever in September, and are headed for relaunches, more people visit sites than sites of any other magazine publisher; the company's core competency in editing and its powerhouse brands leave it well-positioned to play at the top of important categories such as sports and celebrity; and 2007 will see new investment in health, home and food projects online.

Just don't get comfortable. "But it is a challenging time for our industry," Ms. Moore said, "from rapidly changing consumer behavior to a soft advertising market -- so we are challenged for growth."

It's not that it's all bad: The Time Warner board believes in Time Inc. and sees it as a "vital and important" part of the portfolio, she noted.

Only some things are scary. "It also remains critical that we reset our cost base in order to match the new realities of our industry," Ms. Moore continued. "Last winter we undertook a major cost saving effort, and we continue to look at various ways to reduce costs." That effort included layoffs affecting more than 400 people.

"We are also examining how to be more efficient in the new multiplatform publishing environment," Ms. Moore went on, building to a sentence that perhaps best caught the high-and-low nature of the note. "This may result in further difficult decisions and cost reductions," she said, "but it will also create new job opportunities -- we will keep you posted on any developments."

"I want to thank everyone for working so hard these past few months," Ms. Moore said, beginning her wrap-up. "In order to make sure you each stay informed we will continue to communicate to you via regular emails, employee meetings and postings on our intranet. With our strategic focus and the hard work and talent of our world-class employees, I am confident we will remain the biggest and most influential leader in the industry."
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