What happened

The New York Times (NYSE:NYT) shareholders are trouncing the market this year. Their stock jumped 31% compared to a 4% decline in the S&P 500 through the end of June, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The stock dipped into negative territory during March's market swoon but has soared to a new 2020 high in recent weeks.

A man drinks coffee while reading his tablet.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Investors liked what they heard from the media giant in early February, when management revealed accelerating sales and profit growth thanks to strong uptake in its digital subscription products. The content producer managed to boost its membership base by 31% in fiscal 2019, management said.

The company followed that performance up by posting its best quarter for net subscriber growth yet, with memberships improving by nearly 600,000 in the fiscal first quarter of 2020. This success helped offset collapsing advertising revenue to keep revenue marching higher during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now what

Investors will be watching subscriber growth trends and advertising rates over the next few quarters to see if The New York Times can maintain that positive momentum. Robust subscriber growth, plus higher monthly prices, implies a long runway for expanding profit margins ahead.