A mixed Q407 report from The New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT) today … The company turned in a profit of $101.5 million ($0.37 per share) compared with a loss of $685.2 million ($4.59 per share) in the same quarter last year but, excluding special items like the writedown of its New England Media Group, actually turned in a slightly lower profit than Q406 — $159.2 million ($0.44) compared with $169.8 million ($0.46 per share). Revenues dropped 7.1 percent, to $865.8 million from $931.5 million, while ad revenues dropped 9.1 percent and circ rev dropped 4 percent, skewed by comparisons to Q406, which had an extra fiscal week. Without that, the numbers look a bit better but are still down.
Digital contributions: Digital revenue rose 22 percent in 2007 — excluding that extra fiscal week — and now contribute 10.3 percent of the company’s revenue, up from 8.3 percent the previous year.
Earnings call: The approach by hedge fund Harbinger Capital Partners and Firebrand has yet to be mentioned explicitly in the call now underway but the scripted remarks by CEO Janet Robinson addressed most of the issues raised by the partners — most specifically by emphasizing the investments in digital, the payoff and the performance of the NYT online; the sale of assets for $650 million and significant cost cutting.
A few questions into Q&A, the Harbinger/Firebrand matter finally came up, eliciting the same response the NYT has had all along: Robinson repeated that the nominations will be reviewed and recommendations made “in due course.” As for meeting with the activists, the company “regularly” meets with shareholders. Another effort met with similar results and, frankly, it’s wearing quite thin.
(At this point, the partners have only said they control 4.9 percent although, as we reported Sunday, they expect to increase their holdings. For now, though, that’s less than half of the amount controlled by the dissident Morgan Stanley fund manager who finally gave up.)
Boston Globe sale?: Robinson’s reply: Constantly re-evaluating portfolio, etc. “not only for strategic fit, but certainly for financial performance and we will continue to do that.” Lists all the improvement efforts there.
Monster/Yahoo: Digital head Martin Nisenholtz explained that the real effects of the Monster partnership won’t be seen until the second quarter and beyond as other relationships phase out, the sales force gets past the learning curve, etc. “I can’t sit here and tell you exactly what percentage growth we will be seeing on the digital side as a result of the Monster deal — but I can tell you that it