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New York Times posts loss on About.com troubles

A man speaks on his mobile phone in front of the New York Times building in New York City in this file photo taken May 21, 2009.

JOEL BOH/REUTERS

New York Times Co. reported a quarterly loss because of declines at its About.com Internet property.

The company, which publishes its namesake newspaper and the Boston Globe, reported an operating loss of $143.6-million (U.S.) in the second quarter, which included a $194.7-million noncash writedown for the About Group.

That compared with a year-earlier operating profit of $31.5-million.

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About.com is a website that provides expert answers that are geared to appear high in search queries. In turn, the company sells advertising against those results.

That division has run into trouble, mainly because of changes made by Google Inc to its search algorithm to return high-quality results.

At the About Group, revenue fell almost 8 per cent due to decreases in both cost-per-click and display advertising. The company cited competition and the weak economy for the display advertising revenue declines.

Still the New York Times said total revenue had risen almost 1 per cent in the second quarter because more subscribers were paying for its news, including on NYTimes.com.

Subscriptions to the company's digital products, including the BostonGlobe.com, were up 13 per cent to 532,000 compared with March 18 numbers.

Excluding severance costs and the About Group goodwill charge, the company reported earnings per share of 14 cents, beating analysts' estimates by a penny, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Total revenue of $515.2-million beat the analysts' forecast of $510.9-million.

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