New York Times Ad Sales Plummet 28.4%

The New York Times Company (NYT) today announced a first-quarter 2009 operating loss of $61.6 million as total ad sales dropped 28.4% year-over-year.

Internet ad sales slipped 6.1% to $67.6 million from $72 million. The Times’s About.com group fared the best; its ad sales only shrinking 4.7%.

The company managed to cut operating costs 9.5% in the quarter.

Here’s how the company broke out financial results by segment in its quarterly release:

News Media Group

Total News Media Group revenues decreased 19.1 per cent mainly as a result of lower print advertising and the closure of C & S. Excluding C & S, total revenues decreased 17.9 per cent, circulation revenues increased 2.0 per cent and other revenues increased 1.1 per cent.

Advertising revenues in the quarter decreased 28.4 per cent due to lower levels of both print and digital advertising.

Circulation revenues increased 1.0 per cent primarily because of higher home-delivery and newsstand prices, offset in part by volume declines across the News Media Group and the closure of C & S. Excluding C & S, circulation revenues increased 2.0 per cent.

Other revenues decreased 27.7 per cent largely because of the closure of C & S. Excluding C & S, other revenues increased 1.1 per cent.

Total News Media Group operating costs decreased 9.9 per cent to $620.1 million from $688.1 million. Excluding depreciation, amortization and severance, operating costs declined 12.2 per cent to $562.3 million from $640.7 million as reductions occurred in nearly all major expense categories as a result of cost-saving initiatives, including the closure of C & S.

The operating loss was $54.3 million compared with operating profit of $13.3 million in the first quarter of 2008, mainly because of significant losses at the New England Media Group, which includes The Boston Globe, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette and their Web sites. Excluding depreciation, amortization, severance and the special items noted above, operating profit was $19.9 million compared with $79.0 million, mainly due to lower print advertising. The closure of C & S favourably affected the first-quarter 2009 operating results by approximately $9 million.

About Group

Total About Group revenues decreased 4.7 per cent to $26.8 million from $28.2 million due to lower levels of display advertising partially offset by higher cost-per-click advertising.

Total About Group operating costs decreased 4.1 per cent to $17.9 million from $18.6 million. Excluding depreciation, amortization and severance, operating costs decreased 2.8 per cent to $14.8 million from $15.2 million mainly due to lower content costs.

Operating profit decreased 6.0 per cent to $9.0 million from $9.5 million. Excluding depreciation, amortization and severance, operating profit declined 7.0 per cent to $12.0 million from $13.0 million mainly due to lower levels of display advertising.

Other Financial Data

Internet Businesses

Internet businesses include NYTimes.com, About.com, Boston.com and other Company Web sites. Total Internet revenues decreased 5.6 per cent to $78.2 million from $82.9 million and Internet advertising revenues declined 6.1 per cent to $67.6 million from $72.0 million. Internet advertising revenues at the News Media Group decreased 8.0 per cent to $42.2 million from $45.8 million. In total, Internet businesses accounted for 12.8 per cent of the Company’s revenues compared with 11.1 per cent in the 2008 first quarter.

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