Quarter after quarter, the publisher of the best (though flawed) newspaper in the country posts dismal results. Like clockwork, management offers a plethora of excuses and today's quarterly results were no different. The company posted a net loss of $74.5 million, or 52 cents. A year earlier, the New York Times Co. broke even. Excluding one-time items, it would have lost 34 cents. Revenue plunged 18.6 percent to $609 million. Wall Street gave a thumbs down to the results, sending NYT's shares reeling.
It probably goes without saying that the publisher's New England papers continue to lose money. The company has threatened to shutter the Boston Globe unless it receives significant union concessions. A few years ago, local businessmen including former General Electric Co. (GE) CEO Jack Welch were reportedly interested in buying the Globe. Too bad the New York Times did not sell New England's largest newspaper when it could.
To be fair, the company's woes are not all of its own doing. Big city dailies, including the Times, are all bleeding advertising and circulation revenue. McClatchy Co. (MNI), another struggling publisher, faces delisting from the New York Stock Exchange.
During the first quarter, NYT revenue plunged 28.4 percent amid declines in both print and online advertising. Circulation revenue rose one percent because of higher home delivery and newsstand prices.
During the quarter, the publisher got some financial breathing room through the sale and lease back of its swanky new corporate headquarters, an investment from Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, extended he maturities of its corporate debt and suspended its dividend.
"At this time, and it is early in the quarter, we believe the rate of decline in ad revenues in the second quarter will be similar to that of the first. In time, however, we believe that the economy will grow and the advertising market will improve," Chief Executive Janet Robinson said in a statement. "While we are looking forward to that day, we are not waiting for it."
Unfortunately for the Times and other publishers, tomorrow is no longer a day a way.