Nyt Building The New York Times

Image Source: The New York Times

The New York Times (NYSE:NYT) reported fourth-quarter results on Feb. 4. The iconic newspaper enjoyed solid growth in its digital business, and its cost-cutting initiatives helped to drive profits sharply higher even as overall sales remained flat.

The New York Times results: The raw numbers

 

Q4 2015

Q4 2014

Growth (YOY)

Revenue

$444.686 million

$444.683 million

0%

Net Income

$51.693 million

$34.875 million

48%

Earnings Per Share

$0.31

$0.22

41%

Source: The New York Times Q4 2015 earnings press release.

What happened with The New York Times this quarter?
Total revenue was flat year over year at $444.7 million, as circulation revenue increased 1.3% while advertising revenue declined 1.3%.

Circulation revenue rose as digital subscription sales and a price increase for home delivery of The New York Times more than offset a decline in the number of print copies sold.

The Times added 53,000 paid subscribers to its digital-only subscription products in the fourth quarter. Digital-only subscribers totaled 1,094,000 as of the end of 2015 -- a 20% increase from the prior year period. That helped to drive a 13% rise in fourth-quarter circulation revenue from digital-only subscription products to $50.4 million.

Fourth-quarter print advertising revenue fell 6.6%. However, digital advertising revenue increased 10.6% to $69.9 million, or 34.1% of total advertising revenue, up from 30.5% in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Operating costs decreased 7.7% to $352.7 million, mainly as a result of lower print production and distribution costs as well as declines in severance, depreciation, amortization, and raw materials costs. That helped Q4 operating profit jump more than 40% to $87.7 million.

All told, earnings per share from continuing operations surged 41% to $0.31.

"We ended the year with a solid quarter, with strong growth in adjusted operating profit and digital advertising and consumer revenue, and the addition of 53,000 net new paid digital-only subscribers, the largest number of new subscribers in a quarter in three years," said CEO Mark Thompson. "We also succeeded in significantly reducing our costs."

Looking forward
Management expects total circulation revenues in the first quarter of 2016 to increase at a rate similar to that of the fourth quarter of 2015. However, first-quarter total advertising revenue is expected to decrease between 2% to 4% on a year-over-year basis. And operating costs are projected to increase in "low-single digits" as the company continues to invest in its digital initiatives.

"Overall, 2015 was a year of progress across the business," said Thompson. "From the launch of virtual reality, continued growth in T Brand Studio, enhancement of mobile ad products, reimagined print sections and the delivery of consistently excellent journalism, we laid the groundwork for continued digital growth."

Joe Tenebruso has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends The New York Times. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.