The New York Times Company on Tuesday reported a $4.3 million net loss for the third quarter as advertising and circulation revenue declined, and charges at The Boston Globe weighed on the bottom line. That result, which translates into a loss of about 3 cents a share, was an improvement from the period a year ago, when losses were 25 cents a share.
The Times Company, which publishes its namesake newspaper in addition to The Globe, The International Herald Tribune and a number of regional newspapers and owns About.com, continued to accumulate cash. And costs, at $522.9 million, were essentially flat compared with the period a year ago.
On an operating basis, the company said it had earned $9 million, up from a loss of $23.7 million in the third quarter a year ago.
Total revenue decreased 2.7 percent, to $554.3 million, in the third quarter compared with the period a year ago. Advertising revenue dropped 1 percent while circulation revenue fell 4.8 percent. Digital advertising, which now makes up 27 percent of the company’s overall advertising revenue, rose 14.6 percent.
In the company’s News Media Group, which includes the newspaper businesses, advertising revenue fell 1.7 percent, as a 21.6 percent increase in online ad sales helped offset a 5.8 percent decrease in print ad revenue.
Looking to the fourth quarter, the Times Company said it expected the print advertising market to “improve modestly” and digital advertising to grow 10 percent. It cautioned, however, that circulation revenue was expected to continue falling 4 to 5 percent, and that newsprint prices would rise.
At the company’s New York Times Media Group, which includes The Herald Tribune, advertising rose 1.6 percent over all. That division’s reliance on national advertising, which has shown growth in recent months, helped buoy the results.
Advertising revenue at About.com grew 5.3 percent, to $30.9 million.
Other divisions did not fare as well. At the Regional Media Group, which includes newspapers like The Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida and The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, Calif., revenue fell 4.5 percent. Revenue at the New England Media Group, which includes The Globe, dropped 6.2 percent.
The two one-time costs at The Globe that contributed to the company’s quarterly loss included a $16.1 million write-down of assets in the sale of a printing facility in Billerica, Mass., and $6.3 million for pension obligations.
Despite the difficulties in some areas, executives stressed that the company had steadied other areas of its business.
“We have remained vigilant in managing our expenses, and we were able to keep our third-quarter operating costs virtually flat with the third quarter last year, despite higher compensation costs and newsprint prices, and investments in our digital offerings,” the chief executive, Janet L. Robinson, said in a statement.
The company reported that it had $129 million in cash on hand and debt of $774 million, compared with $102 million in cash and $773 million in debt at the end of the second quarter. Ms. Robinson said this month that the company planned to repay a high-interest $250 million loan from the Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helú by Jan. 15, 2012, the earliest date possible.