New York Times Sees Rebound In Internet Advertising In Fourth Quarter

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The online advertising recession might be over for the New York Times. The company announced fourth quarter earnings this morning. Total revenues for the quarter were down 11.5 percent to $681 million, but Internet revenues (including About.com) were up 10.3 percent to $102 million.

The Internet advertising portion of that was also up 10.6 percent to $90.6 million. Earnings per share were 44 cents after special items, above consensus of 38 cents.

This is the first quarter in more than a year that Internet advertising revenues did not decline. While one quarter of data is not enough to confirm a rebound, it is a hopeful sign.

Annual Change In Internet Advertising Revenues

4Q08: -3.5%
1Q09: -6.1%
2Q09: -15.5%
3Q09: -8.2%
4Q09: +10.6%

Internet advertising is making up an increasing portion of the company’s total advertising dollars, now making up 23 percent of the total in the quarter.

For the year, total revenues were down 17 percent to $2.4 billion, total advertising revenues (mostly print) were down an even steeper 24.5 percent to $1.3 billion, with Internet advertising revenues down 4.6 percent to $294.5 million. Only $174 million of that Internet advertising was on its news sites.

The real standout business the New York Times owns is information site About.com, which made up only 5 percent of the company’s revenues last year ($121 million out of $2.4 billion), but 69 percent of its operating profits ($51 million out of $74 million). About represented such an outsized portion of profits last year because the rest of the businesses were showing losses most quarters. If you look at only the fourth quarter, About still makes up 5 percent of revenues, but only 13 percent of operating profits, which is closer to what it should be going forward.

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