Print and digital ad revenues higher at New York Times

The New York Times said Thursday that advertising income in both its print and digital editions increased for the first time in years during the first quarter.

Despite lower profits in the January-March period -- blamed in part on the cost of recent strategic investments -- the newspaper group said there was a firm upturn in both advertising and circulation revenues.

Circulation brought in $209.7 million, a 2.1 percent gain from a year ago, and advertising earned $158.7 million, up 3.4 percent.

But costs rose at a faster pace, leaving operating profits at $22.1 million, down from $28.1 million in the first quarter of 2013.

Overall profits fell 51 percent to $1.7 million, or two cents a share.

Gains online were the strongest, as traditional print newspapers generally continued to shrink against the rise of Internet and mobile-available news.

The times said its paying digital subscribers rose to 799,000, 39,000 more than at the end of 2013.

Subscribers of the printed paper continued to fall, but ironically revenues from print ads were up 3.7 percent.

Mark Thompson, president and chief executive officer, said the results represent progress in improving overall performance and innovation in advertising.

"For the first time in several years, we saw quarterly growth in both print and digital advertising revenues, with total advertising revenues increasing by more than 3 percent year-over-year," he said in a statement.

"However, we are certainly not claiming victory in advertising yet; we expect continued month-to-month volatility and recognize that we will face some significantly tougher year-on-year comparisons as the year goes on."

The Times has launched two new products in recent weeks, the NYT Now app for mobile device users, and Times Premier, a premium news and information service that costs on top of a regular subscription.

NYT Now "in particular is being embraced by the market," said Thompson.

The company's shares were up 0.8 percent at $16.74 in midday trade.

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