The New York Times is probably my favorite newspaper, but The New York Times Co.
There are minor problems on both ends of the operations statement. The rising economic tide seems to be lifting other boats a bit more quickly. For this year's first quarter, the Times' revenues were just above flat, ticking up 2.3% to $802 million. The company predicted this last month, but that doesn't mean we can't shake our heads today.
At the bottom end of the income statement, we are faced with flat earnings -- and that's putting a good spin on it. At a glance, the $0.38 per share for the quarter looks like a 16% slump from the $0.45 in the prior-year quarter. But backing out last year's $0.07 per stub in onetime benefits brings the number back to breakeven, year over year. The problem here is that the Times couldn't seem to get a handle on operating costs, which rose 3.3%, after excluding last year's special charges.
It's not all bad news for the firm. Last month, fellow Chicago Fool Brian Gorman pointed out that the stodgy old Times was, in fact, selling digital ads at a much better clip than competitors like Washington Post Co.
But for investors, it all comes back to price. At $47 per share, with a P/E ratio of nearly 24, the firm is valued more richly than peers like Gannett and Tribune, despite lagging behind those two firms in revenues and earnings growth.
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