As pressure on the newspaper industry reached a crescendo this past year and its own debts and financial struggles began to mount, The New York Times (NYSE: NYT) Co swung to a loss for the full year in 2008, reporting a loss of $57.8 million versus net income of $208 million the year before. As for Q4 earnings, net income was $27.6 million ($0.19 per share), a 47 percent drop from Q407’s $52.9 million ($0.37 per share). The company missed Thomson Reuters’ analysts estimates, who had been expecting EPS of $0.27, AP noted, adding that EPS was $0.36, not counting one-time charges.
The NYTCo’s tough earnings report comes amid a flurry of activity to get its finances under control the past few weeks, including accepting a $250 million loan from Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, the closing in on an agreement to strike a sale-leaseback deal on its midtown headquarters and today’s admission that the publisher has hired Goldman Sachs to explore the possible sale of its 17.75 percent stake in New England Sports Ventures. More after the jump
— Getting back to Q4 results, NYTCo’s revenue fell 10.8 percent to $772.1 million. The news follows a dismal December report, when revs slid 9 percent. As a result, advertising revenues fell 17.6 percent during Q4.
— Charges: Net income was affected by a $0.10 per share charge for severance costs and a non-cash charge totaling $0.7 per share for the write-down of assets, compared with $.37 EPS last year. NYTCo also record a non-cash charge of $19.2 million ($10.7 million after tax, or $0.7 per share) for the write-down of “an intangible asset” at The International Herald Tribune, which is part of the Media Group.
— Online: In a statement, NYTCo president/CEO Janet Robinson cited the deteriorating economic conditions as exacting particular pain on the newspaper industry and causing advertisers to scale back significantly, even on the internet which had remained a bright spot for first nine months of the year. After growing almost 15 percent during that time, digital advertising decreased 3.5 percent to $81.9 million in Q4, as online marketers cut back on display ads. Overall, NYTCo’s internet businesses, which include NYTimes.com, About.com, Boston.com and other company sites, saw Q4 revenues decrease 2.9 percent to $92.5 million from Q407’s $95.2 million.
— Full-year web results: The NYTCo’s ’08 internet revenues fell 6.5 percent to $351.7 million from $330.2 million in 2007. On the plus side, it was able to hold on to most of its gains in online ads, as ’08 website ad dollars grew 9.3 percent to $308.8 million from $282.5 million.
— News Media Group: The segment’s revenues fell 11.1 percent to $742.2 million from last year’s $835 million. Ad rev dropped 18.4 percent. Circ dollars were up 3.7 percent, due mostly to higher prices at each of the company