Following a surge in the The New York Times' (NYSE:NYT) stock since the "Trump-bump" effect and an impressive first quarter earlier this year, the newspaper failed to impress last week when it reported its second-quarter results. Suppressed advertising revenue and slowing growth in digital subscribers were reminders of some of the risks to owning shares of the evolving company.
A close look at The New York Times' most important metrics from its second quarter provide useful insight into where the company is facing challenges and where it's seeing momentum.
1. Revenue is up 1.8%
The New York Times' second-quarter revenue increased by just 1.8% year over year, highlighting challenges the company is facing as it aims to revamp its digital advertising business and embrace a primarily digital subscription-based business model.
The company's revenue growth rate was down from 3.8% year over year growth in its first quarter. But New York Times CEO Mark Thompson was quick to defend the slower revenue growth, noting in its second-quarter earnings call that the steeper decline it saw in print subscription revenue, which weighed on overall revenue, is simply because the company's year-over-year comparison is up "against an exceptional increase in print [subscription] revenue a year earlier -- again part of that initial 'Trump-bump' effect."
Further, The New York Times expects a turnaround in digital advertising revenue (more on that below).
2. Advertising revenue declined 9.9%
This year-over-year decline in advertising revenue was comprised of a 7.5% year-over-year decline in advertising revenue and an 11.5% decline in print advertising revenue.
Management had warned in its first-quarter earnings release that it expected another quarter of year-over-year declines in digital advertising revenue in Q2 before the company returned to "solid" growth in Q3. Management said its third-quarter decline in digital advertising revenue was due to "a smaller audience as well as a decline in creative service revenues," said The New York Times in its second-quarter earnings release.
Looking ahead, management said in its second-quarter update that it remains "confident that we will return to strong year-over-year growth [for digital advertising revenue] in the third quarter."
3. Digital-only subscription revenue jumped 19.6%
This year-over-year increase in digital-only subscription revenue was driven by an 18% year-over-year increase in news product subscriptions and a 61% increase in stand-alone subscriptions to its crossword and cooking products.
Highlighting how integral the Trump-bump was to New York Times' growth in the year-ago quarter, the 68,000 digital-only subscriptions to its core news bundle that it added during the quarter was down from 93,000 net subscriber additions in the year-ago quarter.
4. Management expects Q3 digital ad revenue to increase 10%
Management importantly put a figure behind its forecast to return to strong growth in digital advertising revenue in the second half of the year. In its guidance provided for Q3, management said it expects approximately 10% year-over-year growth in digital advertising revenue.
Management also notably said it expects digital-only subscription revenue to rise at a year-over-year rate "in the high teens."
Despite the unmistakable slowdown in news subscriptions since the Trump-bump and some near-term challenges with growing digital advertising revenue, The New York Times is still seeing meaningful growth in digital-only subscribers, and management continues to expect a rebound in its digital advertising revenue. With the aspects most fundamental to The New York Times' future still performing well, shareholders have good reason to keep holding this stock for the long haul.