New York Times Says Smaller Print-Ad Drop to Help Increase 2010 Earnings

New York Times Co., publisher of the namesake newspaper, said it expects fourth-quarter print advertising revenue to decline at a slowing pace, helping 2010 earnings top those last year.

Print-advertising revenue this quarter will drop by about 4 percent from the year-earlier period, the company said today in a statement. Print advertising in the third quarter decreased 5.8 percent.

Chief Executive Officer Janet Robinson said national advertising, accounting for most of the company’s ad revenue, has improved this year. Digital ad sales will gain about 10 percent this quarter, and circulation revenue will decrease 4 percent to 5 percent, the company said. Digital revenue rose 14.6 percent and circulation revenue fell 4.8 percent in the third quarter.

The print-revenue improvement and cost-cutting efforts will help operating profit excluding depreciation, amortization, severance and special items show “significant improvement” compared with last year, Robinson said in the statement.

The New York Times newspaper will begin charging consumers for access to articles on its website in the first quarter, Robinson said during a presentation at the UBS Media and Communications Conference in New York. Users will be able to read a set number of articles for free each month, and heavy users will have to pay a subscription fee. She didn’t say how many stories are free or give a price for the subscription.

‘High’ Confidence

The company’s Boston Globe newspaper will start a paid gateway to its site in the second half of 2011, Robinson said.

“We will begin directly charging consumers for our content,” Robinson said. “We are very prepared and our confidence is high.”

Times Co. advanced 38 cents, or 4.1 percent, to $9.76 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The stock has declined 21 percent this year.

This month, the Newspaper Association of America said advertising revenue at U.S. newspaper publishers declined at a slowing pace in the third quarter. Ad revenue dropped 5.4 percent last quarter, compared with a 28 percent slump a year earlier, the association said on its website. Print ad revenue fell 7.1 percent and online ad sales rose 11 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brett Pulley in New York at bpulley@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net

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