I'm not as concerned as my dueling partner Anders Bylund about New York Times'
The negative free cash flow is a clear indication that New York Times is not sitting still while its core business deteriorates. It would be trivially simple to ride the paper off to oblivion on mountains of free cash flow over the next several years without investing for the future. While Anders sees danger in that negative free cash flow number, I see opportunity. The company's future competitiveness depends on how well it can restructure itself.
And whether Anders buys it for the coupons, the news, or kindling, a purchase is a purchase. The revenue still reaches the company. Plus, it counts the same on the circulation numbers that drive advertising rates. If coupons are the hook that keeps his family coming back for more, so be it. With overall revenues apparently holding up fairly well despite of the encroachment of alternative media, I have to believe the business is learning to adapt.
Value investors know that the time to buy comes when a company looks like it's on the ropes, yet still has a strong enough balance sheet, brand, and corporate dedication to put up a good fight. The "Old Gray Lady" remains remarkably spunky. From the looks of it, she's down, but not out.
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