What's the good word? There doesn't seem to be much of one these days for many newspaper companies reporting second-quarter earnings, and New York Times
Second-quarter profit came in flat at $0.42 per share, or $61.3 million, as New York Times dealt with high costs; the results included a $0.04 per-share charge associated with staff cuts announced last September. Total sales inched up only about 2% to $858.7 million. Operating profit decreased 7% to $99.1 million.
New York Times said it will reduce the size of its print newspapers to pare down expenses, as other newspaper companies have done, including Washington Post
This bears a striking resemblance to New York Times' first-quarter news, when Foolish colleague Stephen Simpson examined its troubles. The challenges obviously continue for this venerated newspaper company.
It's worthwhile to note that New York Times' About.com Internet property contributed a bright spot to the results; About.com's second-quarter revenues skyrocketed by 63% to $19.4 million, with operating profit up 192% to $7.3 million. The company said that About.com should contribute to earnings this year. New York Times' overall Internet properties represented 7.7% of second-quarter revenues, compared with 5.8% in the same quarter last year. This is also no surprise; many newspapers seem to see the writing on the wall when it comes to the increasing strength of digital products in light of print products' challenges.
Ironically, perhaps, newspapers' woes make good headline fodder here lately; their biggest challenge is to evolve given rapid changes in the way that consumers take in news and information, particularly given migration to the Internet. Just Monday, I wrote about Dow Jones' initiatives to examine its online operations, reduce duplicated efforts, and put emphasis on differentiated content. The latest earnings have featured quite a few lackluster results -- cases in point include Tribune
It's understandable that some investors might be looking for values in the beleaguered industry, but it might still be too soon to tell the winners from the losers. Personally, I'd prefer those that have healthy online operations and an innovative eye toward change that will help offset challenges on the print side, but judging by a quick peek at New York Times' P/E ratio of 18, it doesn't seem compelling enough to dig further at the moment, given the industry's challenges for growth. Even given cost-cutting efforts, there are still tough times ahead for New York Times and many of its peers.
Extra! Extra! Read all about it:
- Dow Jones scoops for news strategy.
- Is Dow Jones a value or a value trap?
- Why one Fool thinks a recent New York Times magazine is ill-timed.
Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.