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New York Times Profit Slides

Fourth-quarter earnings fell steeply at the New York Times Co. (NYT - Get Report) as the company took a big charge related to staff reductions.

The newspaper publisher earned $64.8 million, or 45 cents a share, in the latest quarter, compared with earnings of $110.2 million, or 75 cents a share, a year ago. The most recent quarter had charges totaling 23 cents a share for staff cuts and an accounting change.

Adjusted for the charges, the Times' earnings somewhat exceeded the Thomson First Call consensus estimate of 60 cents a share. Sales in the quarter were $931 million, down 3% from a year ago and matching estimates.

"Our revenues in the fourth quarter came in better than expected, primarily because of very strong performance at The New York Times Media Group," the company said. " The New York Times, the International Herald Tribune and NYTimes.com all showed strong advertising gains, resulting in the Group's advertising revenues growing by nearly 8%. New products and enhancements were instrumental in achieving this growth.

"At the New England Media Group, advertising revenues declined, mainly as a result of weakness in key categories such as automotive, home furnishings, travel and department stores. Advertising in the quarter continued to be affected by consolidation among important advertisers as well as sluggishness in the Massachusetts economy." The New England unit publishes the Boston Globe.

National ad revenue showed some strength and was up 9.5% but retail ad sales were down 1.6%. Broadcast media saw a 10% decline from the year before.

Looking ahead, the Times was cautious.

"We are very pleased with our advertising results in December and the fourth quarter, when we saw strength across many categories," said CEO Janet Robinson, in a statement. "January, traditionally a light month, is off to a slower start, especially in the entertainment and classified automotive categories."

In premarket trading, New York Times Company was trading down 31 cents to $27.

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