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The Globe and Mail

Big jump in digital subscribers boosts New York Times

A big rise in the number of digital subscribers to the New York Times sent shares of the newspaper's parent company up as much as 8.5 per cent in morning trading.

New York Times Co. said on Thursday that the website had 224,000 digital subscribers at the end of the second quarter, up from more than 100,000 in April.

"The standout is getting a little bit more [insight] into the digital subscribers," said Derek Maupin, a research analyst with Hodges Capital Management, which holds a position in the company. He said the subscription numbers were encouraging.

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Excluding severance charges and other items, the company earned 14 cents (U.S.) a share, beating the average analyst estimate of 9 cents a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

While the company is making headway with its digital subscriptions, it cannot shake a print advertising slump clinging to the U.S. newspaper business.

Quarterly revenue fell 2.2 per cent to $576.7-million, dragged down by a 6.4-per-cent decline in print advertising.

Indeed, the largest U.S. newspaper publisher, USA Today owner Gannett Co., reported lower quarterly revenue and profit as advertisers continued to pull back on spending.

New York Times chief executive officer Janet Robinson warned in a statement that "economic and industry conditions continue to present challenges" and that advertisers remain wary.

At the News York Times Media Group, ad revenue slipped less than 1 per cent while revenue from paid subscriptions rose slightly.

The New York Times newspaper is outperforming the industry, said Douglas Arthur, an analyst with Evercore Partners.

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The New York Times started charging for some access to and related digital products in March in an experiment that other publishers are watching closely as they wonder whether they should do it too.

Digital advertising revenue at the News Media Group, which includes, rose almost 16 per cent to $58.2-million.

The company, which also publishes The Boston Globe, said it is seeking a buyer for the remaining shares of the company that owns the Boston Red Sox baseball team. Earlier this month, it sold more than half of its stake in the Fenway Sports Group for $117-million in cash.

Revenue at the About Group, which includes the network of websites, fell about 17 per cent to $27.8-million, hurt by changes that Google made to its search results formula.

The company reported a second-quarter loss of $119.7-million, or 81 cents a share, compared with profit of $32-million, or 21 cents, a year earlier.

The loss resulted primarily from a non-cash charge of 93 cents a share, mainly at its regional media group. That includes newspapers in California, Florida and other states in the southeastern United States.

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