Ad Revenues Grew 10%; Executives Remain Cautious for 2003

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NEW YORK ( -- The New York Times Co. posted improved results in the fourth quarter of 2002, thanks to better advertising revenues, particularly at its flagship daily, The New York Times.

The company reported $107.5 million in net income, up 45.1% from the same period in 2001, on a revenue increase of 7.6%, to 840.2 million. Net income for the year was down 32.6% to $299.7 million due to the sale of the company's magazine group in 2001; factoring out gains from the sale, net income would be up 48.2%.

Help-wanted sector
Advertising revenues for the

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quarter grew 10.1% to $578.2 million, but were practically flat for the year, at $2.05 billion. Management noted the company's newspapers saw increased ad momentum in the fourth quarter, especially in December. Executives singled out the troubled help-wanted sector, which turned positive in December for the first time since September 2000 at the Times and since Nov 2000 at the New England Newspaper Group led by The Boston Globe.

2002: 'Out with a bang'
"While 2002 came in with a whimper, it went out with a bang," said Russell Lewis, president-CEO.

While year-over-year comparisons helped the December results, sequential improvement in ad revenues seen in the fourth quarter hints at momentum in advertising sales going into 2003, said Janet Robinson, senior vice president of newspaper operations.

Hard to predict
Mr. Lewis said management is pleased with January results so far, but cautioned the first quarter remains hard to predict, given the weak employment markets in New York and Boston, as well as the fear of war in Iraq and the continued weakness in the stock market.

"The dots are going in the right direction. ... We're not seeing anything negative in the horizon, except for the geopolitical stuff that's out there for all of us to worry about at night," Mr. Lewis said.

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