Updated from 11:23 a.m. ESTThough the company recorded a massive writedown on its business in New England, New York Times ( NYT) managed to beat Wall Street's expectations with its fourth-quarter operating results. Excluding the writedown, the publishing empire's earnings for the quarter rose 39% to $87.9 million, or 61 cents a share. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial projected earnings of 46 cents a share. Shares climbed 21 cents, or 1%, to $23.11 Wednesday. At least one analyst viewed the results as a sign that the company's profit decline of recent years may be nearing a bottom, which would make the stock an attractive value. "It was a better-than-expected quarter," says Benchmark Research analyst Ed Atorino. "The Times is going to see better numbers as the strength of its brand starts to pay off with the growth in online and the cost-cutting." That is, with one caveat: The Boston Globe, says Atorino, remains a "wild card." In tech-savvy New England, The Globe has been hit especially hard by the rise of the Internet as a source for information. Meanwhile, the New England real estate market has cooled and major retailers in the area have consolidated, putting a damper on ad revenue. As a result, the venerable newspaper has morphed into New York Times' worst-performing asset. For the fourth quarter, the company took a writedown on its New England media business totaling 735.9 million, or $5.11 a share. The charge put its bottom line deep in the red with a loss of $648 million, or $4.50 a share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $63.2 million, or 43 cents a share.