New York Times Co., publisher of the namesake newspaper, said more than 100,000 people signed up for new digital subscriptions, a sign online revenue may help offset a decline in print advertising and circulation.
Times Co. introduced its so-called paywall March 28 as readers continue to shift away from print newspapers and toward the Web. The system requires customers to pay for online content, often after they have read more than 20 articles.
“That’s a pretty good number,” said Douglas Arthur, an analyst at Evercore Partners in New York who has an “overweight” rating on shares and doesn’t own any. “My break- even number for subscriptions for 12 months is 200,000, and the Times is already at 100,000 after three weeks.”
First-quarter revenue fell to $566.5 million from $587.9 million a year earlier, the New York-based company said in a statement. Analysts had projected $569 million, according to the average estimate from a Bloomberg survey. Earnings per share, excluding one-time expenses, were 2 cents, meeting analysts’ estimates.
First-quarter net income fell 57.6 percent, to $5.42 million from $12.8 million a year ago. Operating costs increased 0.3 percent to $506 million, primarily due to higher promotion and newsprint expense, the company said.
Advertising revenue fell 4.4 percent to $299 million compared to a year ago, although digital ad sales rose 4.5 percent. Circulation revenue declined 3.7 percent to $228 million.
“I thought the ad number for the New York Times would be much worse than it was,” said Arthur. “It’s still down, but not as much as I thought.”
NYTimes.com is the world’s most viewed English-language newspaper site, receiving about 62 million unique visitors in the month of March, according to comScore Inc. In the first 12 days after the company instituted its pay wall, site usage fell between 5 and 15 percent most days, according to Experian Hitwise.
Times Co. fell 8 cents to $9.04 at 10:10 a.m. Thursday in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The stock had declined 6.9 percent this year before today.
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