(Reuters) - New York Times Co's (NYT.N) profit beat market estimates for the third quarter in a row as the newspaper publisher's cost cuts offset a decline in revenue.
The company, whose shares jumped as much as 7.3 percent on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, also said it expects operating costs to decrease at a low-single digit percentage rate for the current quarter.
New York Times, which said in October it would cut about 7.5 percent of its newsroom positions and shut its NYT Opinion mobile app, said operating costs fell about 4 percent to $350.3 million in the first quarter.
Like several newspaper and magazine publishers, New York Times has been under pressure to replace an evaporating pool of print advertising dollars with digital ads and money from subscriptions.
The newspaper publisher forecast advertising revenue for the second quarter to fall at a mid-single digit percentage rate.
First-quarter advertising revenue fell 5.8 percent to $149.9 million as a 10.7 percent jump in digital ad revenue could not offset a 11.1 percent decline in print advertising revenue.
Circulation revenue grew marginally to $211.5 million, helped mainly by a 14.4 percent increase in revenue from digital-only subscription products.
"Digital is the main growth area. But where we can invest in what I call 'islands of growth' or 'segments of growth' in print side, we will do that," Chief Executive Mark Thompson told Reuters, citing the recently launched Men's style segment and the re-launch of the New York Times Magazine.
The company needs to hold on to print advertising as much as it could for economic reasons, Thompson said.
Net loss attributable to New York Times shareholders from continuing operations of $14.3 million, or 9 cents per share, compared with a profit of $2.7 million, or 2 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding items, the company earned 11 cents per share from continuing operations.
Revenue fell 1.6 pct to $384.2 million.
Analysts on average had expected earnings of 8 cents per share on revenue of $384.3 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company's shares were up 4 percent at $13.32 on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday afternoon after touching a high of $13.74 in the stock's biggest intraday gain since it reported fourth-quarter results on Feb. 3.
Additional reporting by Abhirup Roy and Supantha Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Joyjeet Das