Consider this an effort to warn Fools away from a stock that's on the move. Since last August, when its shares hit an intraday low of $21.54, New York Times (NYSE:NYT) shares have risen more than 20% to their Friday closing price of $26.03. Annualize that six-month increase, and you've got a real mover. Getting interested?

Please don't. Times is still a newspaper company at its core, and, like its brethren at Tribune (NYSE:TRB), Gannett (NYSE:GCI), and McClatchy (NYSE:MNI), it's difficult to discern a bright future -- or perhaps any sort of ultimate future -- for the company. The inescapable and unavoidable truth is that its readership continues to decline, its advertising revenues are slipping, and the steps being taken to improve its journalistic and financial lot appear to be largely stopgap.

Times' revenues for January were released recently, and lo and behold, they declined 2.1% from the same month a year earlier. That's despite a recent study at the University of Missouri-Columbia suggesting that newspapers that spend more money in the newsroom will, in fact, make more money. According to the study, which was based upon a decade of newspaper financial information, spending on the basic business of journalism eclipses outlays for circulation or advertising in importance to a publisher's bottom line.

At Times, however, the spending has gone to such areas as the hiring of a futurist-in-residence, who has established his own group to help guide the paper out of its current malaise. That group consists primarily of technologists, and to be fair, the paper's overall operation will seemingly benefit from such technological improvements as the use of Vista software, which automatically formats the paper's stories to fit all manner of appliances, from computers to mobile phones.

At the same time, during the past couple of weeks, Times has teamed up with Monster Worldwide (NASDAQ:MNST) to jointly sell help-wanted ads. The ads and the Monster brand will be placed on about 20 of Times' websites, including those of The New York Times and The Boston Globe. The obvious attempt is for Times to recapture some of the advertising revenues it's lost to Internet sites.

But in the final analysis, Times is a newspaper publisher, and its reemergence as any sort of a growth vehicle remains problematic. As such, I strongly urge Fools not to become enraptured by impressive -- but probably unsustainable -- price appreciation at the company.

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned. He welcomes your comments or questions.