New York Times 3Q earnings fall

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NEW YORK -- The New York Times Co. reported sharply lower earnings for its third quarter Thursday on a 4.2% decline in advertising revenues and charges for job cuts and the sale of its stake in a cable network.

The company, which also owns The Boston Globe, the International Herald Tribune and 15 other newspapers in addition to the Times, earned $14 million, or 10 cents a share, in the three months ending in September, compared with $23.1 million, or 16 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

The most recent quarter included charges of 3 cents per share for job cuts and another 3 cents per share related to the sale of the company's 50% stake in Discovery Times Channel. The year-ago period also included a charge of 5 cents per share related to job cuts.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had been expecting 12 cents per share, excluding charges.

The company's shares fell 34 cents, or 1.5%, to $22.91 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Revenues for the period fell 2.4% to $739.6 million. Advertising revenues fell 4.2% while circulation revenues fell 1.3%.

The company also reported a 3.9% decline in advertising revenues for September, including another poor showing from its Boston-area properties, where advertising fell 10%. Retail advertising fell following the consolidation of two major department stores in the region, while classified advertising fell on weakness in autos, help wanted and real estate.

CEO Janet Robinson said in a statement that print advertising overall remains "challenging," especially in entertainment, autos and help wanted. "The slowdown in the advertising market that began in the third quarter is expected to continue through the end of the year," she said in a statement.

Speaking on a conference call with analysts, Robinson downplayed speculation of a potential leveraged buyout of the company. Only the Times' controlling shareholders, the Ochs-Sulzberger family, are able to change the structure of the company, and "they have given no indication that they plan to do so," she said.

The company announced last month that it intends to sell its broadcasting division, which includes nine network-affiliated TV stations. As a result, the company counts those results as discontinued operations.

Robinson said the company was also making progress in building up its Internet-related businesses, which now make up more than 8% of revenues and are on track to reach $250 million by the end of the year.

The company also said its previously announced decision to consolidate its New York area printing operations into one facility would cost between $104 million and $128 million.
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