In the fourth quarter of 2012, the Company’s cash and short-term investments improved by more than $340 million from the third quarter of 2012, in large part due to proceeds from the sales of the About Group and the Company’s ownership interest in Indeed.com. During the fourth quarter, the Company also repaid in full the $75 million 4.610 percent senior notes that matured on September 26, 2012, repurchased $5.9 million principal amount of the 5.0 percent senior notes due March 15, 2015, and terminated its $125 million asset-backed revolving credit facility.
In early October 2012, Indeed.com, in which the Company had an ownership interest, was sold. The pre-tax proceeds from the sale of the Company’s interest were approximately $167 million and the net after-tax proceeds were approximately $104 million.
Capital expenditures totaled approximately $6 million in the fourth quarter and approximately $26 million in 2012.
As part of the Company’s ongoing strategy to reduce its pension obligations and the resulting volatility of the Company’s overall financial condition, in September 2012, it offered certain former employees who participate in The New York Times Companies Pension Plan the option to receive a one-time lump sum payment equal to the present value of the participant’s pension benefit or to commence an immediate monthly annuity. As a result, the Company recorded a non-cash settlement charge of $48.7 million in connection with the lump sum payments made in the fourth quarter of 2012, which totaled approximately $112 million. These lump sum distributions were made with existing assets of The New York Times Companies Pension Plan and not with Company cash.
For accounting purposes on a GAAP basis, based on preliminary results, the underfunded status of the Company’s qualified pension plans as of December 30, 2012, was approximately $396 million.
While the funded status of the Company’s qualified pension plans was negatively affected by the decline in interest rates, that decline was more than offset by contributions, the lump-sum offer and solid returns in pension asset performance.
The Company made contributions of approximately $107 million in the fourth quarter and approximately $144 million for the full year of 2012 to certain qualified pension plans. The majority of these contributions were discretionary. In January 2013, the Company made a contribution of approximately $57 million to The New York Times Newspaper Guild pension plan, of which $20 million was necessary to satisfy minimum funding requirements in 2013. For the full year 2013, the Company expects mandatory contributions to other qualified pension plans to raise total contributions to approximately $71 million. The Company will continue to evaluate whether to make additional discretionary contributions in 2013 to its qualified pension plans based on cash flows, pension asset performance, interest rates and other factors.