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New York Times 1st-qtr profit drops 51 pct, even as ad revenue grows for 1st time in 3 years

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NEW YORK — The New York Times Co. said Thursday that its first-quarter net profit dropped 51 percent, as higher costs outpaced small increases in circulation and advertising revenue.

Times Co. earned $1.7 million, or 1 cent per share, down from $3.6 million, or 2 cents per share, in the same quarter of 2013. Excluding discontinued operations, the company posted a net profit of 2 cents per share.

The recent quarter's results also included an after-tax charge of $1.5 million, or 1 cent per share, related to the early termination of a distribution agreement.

Revenue rose 3 percent to $390.4 million from $380.7 million.

Analysts, on average, expected a net profit of 3 cents per share on $384.7 million in revenue, according to FactSet.

Circulation revenue rose 2 percent to $209.7 million, helped by the addition of digital subscribers and an increase in home-delivery prices. The company added 39,000 digital-only subscribers during the quarter, bringing the total number of paid digital-only subscribers to about 799,000.

Revenue from digital-only subscription packages, e-reader subscriptions and replica editions jumped 14 percent to $40.3 million.

Meanwhile, overall advertising revenue rose for the first time in three years, jumping 3 percent to $158.7 million. The company saw increases in both print and digital advertising.

But operating costs rose 4 percent to $365.8 million, mainly as a result of higher compensation and benefits expenses related to the company's expansion plans, as well as higher retirement costs.

For the current quarter, Times Co. said it expects total circulation revenue to increase by a percentage in the "low-single digits" and total advertising revenue to decrease by "mid-single digits."

In early afternoon trading, Times Co. shares rose 13 cents to $16.74.

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