NEW YORK (AP) ¿ The New York Times Co. is set to report financial results for the third quarter on Thursday ahead of the opening bell. The following is a summary of key developments and analyst opinion related to the period. OVERVIEW: The Times Co. is the third major newspaper company to report quarterly earnings this month, and results already out from Gannett Co. and McClatchy Co. suggest the publisher likely suffered a quarter of dismal advertising sales. McClatchy, which publishes the Miami Herald and other dailies, and Gannett, the biggest newspaper owner in the U.S., both saw ad revenue drop 28 percent year-over-year. Times Co. ad sales have seen roughly similar declines this year. The latest figures were slightly better than those from the first half of 2009, before the economy started showing signs of improvement. Comparisons to last year should be getting easier because ad revenue had already begun to fall off quickly in 2008. Painful cost cutting has kept the big publishers profitable. After a nearly $75 million loss in the first three months of the year, the Times Co. made $39 million in the second quarter.
This spring, the flagship newspaper's employees took a 5 percent pay cut scheduled to remain in place through the end of the year. And 100 positions were cut from the Times' business operations. Although it has avoided the repeated cutbacks that have drastically reduced the size of most big-city newsrooms in the U.S., the Times let employees know this week that it must cut 100 newsroom positions by the end of the year. It plans to offer voluntary buyouts before resorting to layoffs. Additional buyouts are also being offered on the business side. Earlier in the year, workers at the money-losing Boston Globe agreed to $20 million in wage and benefit cuts. The Times Co. shopped the newspaper to potential buyers but said this month it has decided to hold on to it. The Times Co. also publishes The International Herald Tribune and a chain of smaller regional newspapers. BY THE NUMBERS: On average, analysts expect the Times Co. to sink back into the red, projecting a loss of a penny per share, according to a Thomson Reuters poll. Analysts typically exclude one-time charges or gains from their estimates. Revenue is estimated at $561.6 million, on average. ANALYST TAKE: Edward Atorino, a media analyst with Benchmark Co., expects the Times Co. to report a loss.
"I think the fact that they announced this downsizing of the (newsroom) might indicate that revenue has been a little soft," he said. "I think its going to be a tough quarter." WHAT'S AHEAD: While it has taken the Globe off the market, the Times Co. is still considering options for its other New England newspaper, the Telegram & Gazette in Worcester, Mass. Another big decision is whether to start charging for news online. Both the Times and the Globe are considering it, but deliberations have dragged on because of concern that putting up any kind of pay wall could drive readers to free competitors. STOCK PERFORMANCE: Times Co. shares climbed $2.61, or 47 percent, during the quarter.