What happened

Shares of The New York Times (NYSE:NYT) outpaced last year's booming market, soaring 44% compared to the 29% rise of the S&P 500, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

In July, shares were up by as much as 60% from where they began the year, but only partially recovered from an August slump during the final quarter.

A man reads news on his tablet.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Robust demand for its news products pushed digital subscriptions past 4 million last year, including an impressive 31% spike in the fiscal third quarter. That success drove the media company's revenues upward by nearly 5% through the first three quarters of the year, demonstrating that it has a path for growth even as demand for its print edition wanes.

It wasn't all good news for shareholders, though, as operating costs have been outpacing revenue growth. The New York Times has also been hurt by challenges in the digital advertising industry.

Now what

Those challenges are expected to reduce fourth-quarter advertising revenue by a mid-teen percentage, according to CEO Mark Thompson and his team. The company is also predicting continued robust growth in its subscriber base when it posts results in early February. Investors are hoping that the growing subscriber-fee revenue base will begin boosting profitability soon, but that's likely not going to happen in 2020 since management intends to spend aggressively on its digital platform during the year.