THE New York Times Co. reported a quarterly net loss of $74.5 million on Tuesday, a day after its flagship newspaper scooped up five Pulitzer prizes, the highest awards in US journalism.
Times Co. shares plunged 15.56 percent to $4.94 on Wall Street as the company, which also owns The Boston Globe, International Herald Tribune and other papers, reported a drop in advertising revenue of nearly 30 percent.
Revenue for the Times Co. declined 18.6 percent to $609 million in the first quarter from $747.9 million in the same quarter last year.
The Times Co., which posted a net loss of $335,000 in the first quarter of 2008, said advertising revenue at its publishing segment dropped 28.4 percent in the first three months of 2009, including an eight percent decline in online advertising revenue at its News Media Group.
The New England Media Group, which includes the Boston Globe and Boston.com, saw a 31.4 percent decline in advertising revenue.
Times Co. president and chief executive Janet Robinson said advertising revenue fell across the board in the first quarter and the outlook for the current quarter was equally poor.
"Like many companies across America and in our industry, the challenges we face intensified in the first quarter," Robinson said in a statement. "The effect of the global economic downturn, coupled with the secular changes affecting newspapers, resulted in significant declines in revenues.
"Advertisers pulled back on print placements in all categories -- national, retail and especially classified," she said. "Digital revenues also declined, although modestly, as a result of the weakening economy. Circulation revenue increased slightly as we benefited from price increases at our newspapers."
Robinson said cost-cutting moves should improve the balance sheet for the remainder of the year.
"This quarter our operating costs declined 9.5 percent," she said. "This year we plan to save more than $330 million in operating expenses."
On prospects for the current quarter, Robinson said: "At this time, and it is early in the quarter, we believe the rate of decline in ad revenues in the second quarter will be similar to that of the first. In time, however, we believe that the economy will grow and the advertising market will improve."
Earlier this month, the Times threatened to shut down the Boston Globe, which was purchased by the Times Co. for $1.1 billion in 1993, unless unions at the daily agreed to pay cuts and other cost-saving measures.
The Times Co. also recently completed a sale-leaseback deal for part of its Manhattan headquarters in a move aimed at raising cash to pay down its debt and received a $250-million loan from Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim.
The Times is also seeking a buyer for its 17.75 percent stake in New England Sports Ventures, which includes the Boston Red Sox baseball team and their iconic stadium, Fenway Park.
Like other US newspapers, the Times has been grappling with a steep drop in print advertising revenue, steadily declining circulation and the migration of readers to free news online.