July 21, 2011 / 1:28 PM / 6 years ago

NY Times boosts digital subscribers, revenue off

NEW YORK (Reuters) - 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 percent in morning trading.

The New York Times Co said on Thursday that the nytimes.com 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.

Excluding severance charges and other items, the company earned 14 cents per share, beating the average analyst estimate of 9 cents per 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 percent to $576.7 million, dragged down by a 6.4 percent 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 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 percent while revenue from paid subscriptions rose slightly.

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

The New York Times started charging for some access to the nytimes.com 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 nytimes.com, rose almost 16 percent 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 About.com network of websites, fell about 17 percent to $27.8 million, hurt by changes that Google made to its search results formula.

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

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

Shares of the New York Times were up almost 4 percent at $9.32 in midday trade.

Reporting by Jennifer Saba. Editing by Steve Orlofsky, Derek Caney and Robert MacMillan

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