The New York Times building is seen in Manhattan, New York.
The New York Times building is seen in Manhattan, New York. Image Credit: REUTERS

New York: New York Times Co. shares jumped after reporting better-than-expected results for the third quarter, with total subscribers to the news giant passing 10 million.

Adjusted earnings rose to 37 cents a share, the company said in a statement Wednesday, beating the 29-cent average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales rose 9.3% from the year prior to $598.3 million, exceeding expectations of $589.8 million.

The publisher has succeeded in selling a combined package of offerings including its flagship newspaper, the product review site Wirecutter, the sports site the Athletic, and its Cooking and Games apps. Total subscribers rose to 10.1 million, meeting Wall Street estimates. The company has set a goal of 15 million total subscribers by 2027.

Shares climbed 7.8% at 10:37am in New York. They had risen 28% this year through Tuesday's close.

"We expect the bundle to enhance our resiliency, and further us down the path to building a larger, more profitable company," Chief Executive Officer Meredith Kopit Levien said in the statement.

A bright spot in a bleak environment

The Times has been a bright spot in a bleak environment for newspapers and magazines, which continue to lose advertisers and readers to digital outlets. Its relative financial strength has been buoyed by its bundled offerings of news, entertainment and lifestyle products, as well as an unexpected rise in digital and print advertising revenues. Print advertising sales increased after declining in the second quarter.

"Print advertising is always really hard to call and it did better than we expected in the last quarter," Kopit Levien said on a call with investors, adding that the company expects a tougher advertising market in the current quarter because of broader industry pullback.

Digital subscribers increased by about 210,000 to 9.4 million, even after the newspaper raised subscription prices earlier this year. That led to a subscription revenue growth of 16% versus the year prior, the company said.

"The bundle has been a key element of the Times' success, with the company garnering around 3.5 million subscribers," said Geetha Ranganathan, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst.

Staffing challenges

The New York Times, like other media publishers, has met staffing challenges in its quest for subscriber growth. It disbanded its sports section in July, handing coverage instead to the Athletic, the sports site it purchased in 2022.

Its peer the Washington Post, owned by Inc. founder Jeff Bezos, announced in October it would lay off 240 people after being overly optimistic in its revenue projections. In November, CondA(c) Nast CEO Roger Lynch said the magazine publisher would slash 5% of its workforce.

Times management is also facing internal push back from employees on return-to-office policies, including a recent half-day strike by technology and IT workers on Oct. 30. The employees accused the company of trying to force them back to the office without negotiating in good faith with the union. Workers have been in contract talks with Times management for 15 months.