The New York Times Co. (NYT) executives aren’t afraid of Rupert Murdoch. On the earnings call this morning, CEO Janet Robinson addressed the competition, with the Wall Street Journal’s new New York section debuting on April 26th. “We don’t shy away from the competition,” she said. We never have. We never will.”“When you’re the lead dog, people are constantly going to go after you,” she added.
Executives were confident that print and online ad revenues would go up during the year. Digital ad revenues grew by 18% (thanks, About.com!) but the 12% decrease in print advertising stifled overall revenue (down 6%). About Group got a big 30% ad revenue bump year over year.
More from their report:
- Circulation revenues are up 4% year over year.
- Online ads made up 26% of advertising revenues in 1Q, up from 20% in the prior year.
- 18% decline in operating costs, thanks in part to staff cuts and salary decreases.
Here’s our liveblog of the call:
11:00 a.m. Piano music. Waiting for everyone to get on the call.
11:04 a.m. CEO Janet Robinson on the line “significant positive trending” in print and online ads.
11:06 a.m. She says strong demand for high quality journalism, three newest Pulitzer Prizes will increase paper’s value.
11:07 a.m. “Strong cost control” with 18% decline in operating expenses
11:08 a.m. Completed sale of New England Sports Ventures (Red Sox), for a pre-tax ain of $9 million. Still looking to sell off more.
11:08 a.m. “We have not come to final conclusions” on the metered model parameters.
11:10 a.m. Online ads made up 26% of total revenue, up 20% during the 1st quarter.
11:11 a.m. Real estate, automotive, and classified ads were down in print and online.
11:11 a.m. National and retail in news group decreased 18% in January, up 11% in February and up 4% in March.
11:12 a.m. Studio film ads and Oscar rates didn’t get as much of a higher ad revenue as last year.
11:13 a.m. Print ads: Media from cable providers and broadcast stations in disputes brought revenue, and national automotive. Online: firm growth in media, financial services and American fashion ads. Department store advertising also declined.
11:14 a.m. Online ad revenue couldn’t make up for the dip in advertising revenue.
11:16 a.m. Another mention of the three Pulitzers, “which we add to a long line,” Janet says.
11:17 a.m. Shoutout to Business Day online’s redesign. Offering advertisers “an innovative environment with a high-quality audience.”
11:18 a.m. In March, reached 78 million pageviews on mobile sites and apps. Reached early 4 million downloads of their iPhone app since its launch.
11:18 a.m. iPad app: Free, advertising supported, sponsored by Chase Sapphire.
11:19 a.m. Planning a full, paid iPad app as part of it’s overall strategy. Also launched on Sony’s Reader and Barnes & Noble’s Nook.
11:19 a.m. Deepening social media reach by using Facebook and Twitter.
11:20 a.m. Sizeable gains from large format online ads bought by PBS, Discovery Channel and Starbucks.
11:21 a.m. Those ads couldn’t offset the loss in classified.
11:21 a.m. The About Group had an “outstanding quarter.” Ad revs grew 30%.
11:23 p.m. Jim Follo, CFO on the line
11:26 p.m. We anticipate newsprint prices will continue to rise in the quarter, with suppliers announcing boosts in costs.
11:26 a.m. In 2010, net interest expense to be between $85 and $90 million.
11:27 a.m. Finished the quarter with $100 million in cash.
11:27 a.m. Early in the second quarter, the company made $78 million to one of its sponsored qualified pension plans.
11:28 a.m. Our effective tax rate was 39.3% in the first quarter.
11:29 a.m. We remain committed to streamlining costs.
11:29 a.m. Another reiteration about the quality of their journalism.
Opening up to questions.
11:31 a.m. Saving: Jim replies that the New England Media Group had $20 million in savings thanks to renegotiating Boston Globe union contracts, layoffs, salary rollbacks and a printing plant reconstruction. “We will remain diligent in our cost efforts.”
11:33 a.m. Scott Heekin-Canedy, president, NYT Co. on ads: Seeing strength in financial services, luxury, automotive, healthcare. Challenging ads: Studio and live entertainment, telecom, real estate and recruitment.
11:35 a.m. Are you seeing an “increasingly competitive area?” Scott: “We’re seeing pressure but we so far don’t see it affecting our business.” “Some of the rates that are out there from the Journal are deeply discounted.” “We’ve seen these kind of tactics in the past from the Journal,” and other publications. “We believe we can manage through that kind of rate pressure.”
11:38 a.m. Online help wanted was down 20% for the quarter year over year.
11:39 a.m. Advertising volume down in the newspapers.
11:40 a.m. The Wall Street Journal war. On the advertising front, what do you have to combat this? Janet: “We don’t shy away from the competition. We never have. We never will.” “We fully understand how to compete and in fact we enjoy it.” “We are aggressively competing with the content and advertising packaged. “People know what they get, even if it’s free.” Advertisers understand that. Blasts off a bunch of stats about readership. “These are the facts and I think they speak for themselves.”
11:43 a.m. Janet: The Wall Street Journal “will increase [advertising] volume by giving away a lot, A LOT of free advertising.”
11:46 a.m. Janet on WSJ: “When you’re the lead dog, people are constantly going to go after you.”
11:48 a.m. Janet on national advertising: It will pick up as the year goes on. They are a bit tentative in the beginning part of the year. But they will be looking for brand opportunities.
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