What happened

Shares of The New York Times (NYSE:NYT) jumped sharply on Thursday, following the company's fourth-quarter earnings release. The newspaper stock rose as much as 15.8%, and is up 13.1% at the time of this writing.

Investors in The New York Times were likely pleased with the company's higher-than-expected revenue and profit. It reported revenue and non-GAAP earnings per share of $484 million and $0.39, respectively. On average, analysts were expecting revenue of $467 million and non-GAAP EPS of $0.29.

A man looking at his smartphone in the back of a taxi

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Highlighting the company's strong growth, revenue and adjusted EPS climbed 10% and 30%, respectively.

The New York Times did benefit from an extra week during the quarter. But even excluding that week, revenue still increased 3.5% year over year.

Growth was fueled by a 19.2% year over year increase in subscription revenue (11% when excluding the benefit of the quarter's extra week), which helped offset a 1.3% decrease in advertising revenue.

"Subscription revenues in the fourth quarter of 2017 rose primarily due to significant growth in recent quarters in the number of subscriptions to the Company's digital-only products," management said. Revenue from digital-only subscription products was up 51.2% year over year, hitting $96.3 million.

Now what

In the first quarter of 2018, The New York Times said it expects strong subscription revenue growth to persist, rising in the mid- to high single digits compared to the first quarter of 2017.

Longer-term, CEO Mark Thompson was optimistic: "We believe there remains a large opportunity to continue to extend our subscription reach and will continue to invest in areas of the business that will allow us to achieve that growth."

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.