The New York Times ( NYT) issued first-quarter earnings guidance that appeared to trail the Wall Street consensus Wednesday, saying a spotty economy is hurting its advertising in and around Boston. The publisher expects to earn 22 cents to 24 cents a share in the quarter, including an expense for staff reductions that will come out to 3 cents or 4 cents a share. According to Thomson First Call, analysts were expecting the New York Times to earn 29 cents a share on sales of $833.7 million in the quarter. The outlook came in the company's monthly revenue update, which showed February revenue in its New York Times Media Group rose 3.3% to $101.4 million, while revenue in its New England Media Group, which includes the Boston Globe, fell 12% to $31.2 million. "In February, performance varied across the News Media Group," the Times said. "While The New York Times Media Group and the Regional Media Group posted gains, the New England Media Group's print advertising continued to be adversely affected by consolidation among its advertisers and spotty economic growth in the greater Boston market. "Online advertising at all of the News Media Group's Web sites remained strong and About.com continued to see very robust growth in both display and cost-per-click advertising," it said. Within the New England segment, "national advertising revenues decreased on softness in national automotive, travel, telecommunications, entertainment and financial services advertising," the Times said. "Retail advertising revenues decreased primarily due to the consolidation of the group's two largest department store advertisers. Classified advertising revenues were lower due to softer automotive and help-wanted advertising." The company continued to see good results at About.com, which was acquired a year ago. The company said advertising revenue rose 75% in the segment.