NYT's Behind the Times

If you've been tracking the progress of New York TimesCo. (NYSE: NYT  ) here at The Motley Fool, you will know that I'm not saying anything new when I say the media giant is behind the times. From layoffs to bum quarterly results, the company's ink keeps running low.

To be fair, the Times isn't alone. Dow Jones' (NYSE: DJ  ) Wall Street Journal, Knight Ridder (NYSE: KRI  ) , and Gannett (NYSE: GCI  ) are facing similar challenges -- namely, newspapers appear to be a dying breed. Unlike the innovative thinking shown by E.W. Scripps (NYSE: SSP  ) , whose stock has made it a beacon of light in this industry, this New York icon hasn't been adapting well to the changing of the times.

Although the Times did acquire About.com to tap into the growth in the online market, the 67% increase in online advertising revenues was not enough to offset the weakness in traditional advertising media. The Times' portfolio currently comprises 35 websites -- most of which are just online versions of its daily papers -- two radio stations, eight network-affiliated TV stations, plus flagship papers like The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and TheInternational Herald Tribune. None of these offers the growth necessary to make this a compelling investment.

A look through its recently released third-quarter results suggests that shareholders will not see relief anytime soon. Net revenues nudged higher by a meager 2.2% over the same period a year ago. And because of continued advertising weakness, as well as higher costs associated with job cuts, its net income bled some serious ink, declining 52.2% from the year-ago period.

To make matters worse, New York Times' balance sheet of $37 million in cash and equivalents, and $1.3 billion in debt, does not provide the kind of flexibility needed for it to shift gears.

Until the company shows it has the ability to get out of its time warp, Foolish investors should consider watching this one from behind the printing press.

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Fool contributorJeremy MacNealydoes not own shares of any companies mentioned.


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