Trump bump? NYT adds subscribers, grows digital revenue

The New York Times Co. is adding large numbers of digital subscribers and growing its digital revenue.

The Times added 265,000 digital subscriptions in the last three months of the year, the most significant increase since Donald Trump was elected president. The paper has landed repeated scoops on the Trump administration. Trump has a tempestuous relationship with the Times, sitting for interviews with its reporters and executives and soaking up its coverage while frequently complaining about it.

The Times impressive performance is taking place in a perilous media era. Gains from digital advertising have failed to offset a shortfall from the print side, and newsroom employment fell by nearly a quarter between 2008 and 2017, according to Pew Research.

In the past several days, Vice Media announced 250 job cuts, about 10 percent of its global staff. Newspaper publisher McClatchy offered voluntary buyouts to 13 percent of its staff, about 450 people, and digital media company BuzzFeed said it will cut 200 people. Verizon is cutting about 800 jobs in its media division, which includes Yahoo and HuffPost.

The Times has also had buyouts and layoffs, but said Wednesday that its newsroom staff had grown to 1,600 people , the largest number in its 167-year history.

And the growing subscriptions do come at a cost.

The newspaper turned a $55.2 million profit in the fourth quarter, compared with a loss the year before. But operating profit decreased as it plowed money into marketing. It spent nearly $49 million on marketing and ads, up 49 percent from a year ago.

The company reported a profit of 33 cents per share, beating industry analyst estimates by 6 cents, according to a survey by FactSet. Revenue grew 3.8 percent to $502.7 million, easily topping analyst projections for $479 million.

For the year, the company reported profit of $125.7 million, or 75 cents per share, on revenue of $1.75 billion.

Digital ad revenue rose 23 percent, to $103.4 million, while print ad revenue fell 10 percent, to $88.3 million. It expects digital ad revenue to rise in the first quarter too, but not as much — by a “mid-teens” percentage — while print ad revenue falls again.

Subscription revenue fell 2.2 percent to $263.6 million in the fourth quarter, weighed down by print; the company expects a gain in the current quarter.

It has a new goal of 10 million subscriptions by 2025, up from 4.3 million today. Nearly 80 percent of those 2018 subscribers are digital.

New York Times shares gained 8.4 percent to $29.17 in midday trading. The stock has climbed 22 percent in the last 12 months.

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Parts of this story were generated by Automated Insights (http://automatedinsights.com/ap) using data from Zacks Investment Research. Access a Zacks stock report on NYT at https://www.zacks.com/ap/NYT

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