NY Times shares hit 13-year high as paper sees subscriptions spike

NY Times shares hit 13-year high as paper sees subscriptions spike
© Getty Images

The New York Times shares on Wednesday hit a 13-year high as the company sets a goal of hitting 10 million subscriptions by 2025.

The Times on Wednesday announced it gained 265,000 new digital subscriptions in the fourth quarter of 2018, even as President TrumpDonald John TrumpFlorida GOP lawmaker says he's 'thinking' about impeachment Democrats introduce 'THUG Act' to block funding for G-7 at Trump resort Kurdish group PKK pens open letter rebuking Trump's comparison to ISIS MORE continues to describe the newspaper as "failing."

The company had not seen that large of a gain since the months following the 2016 presidential election, referred to by The Times as the “Trump bump.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The paper ended the year with 3.4 million digital subscriptions and 4.3 million total subscriptions.

“As a result we are setting ourselves a new goal – to grow our subscription business to more than 10 million subscriptions by 2025,” Chief Executive Officer Mark Thompson said in a statement.

The company also announced plans to test a price increase for digital subscribers in the early part of the year, the first increase in seven and a half years. 

“We’re confident that our digital subscribers will also understand why the price paid for high-quality journalism sometimes has to increase if the journalism itself is to flourish,” Thompson said.  

Times shares on Wednesday rose as much as 12 percent to $30.07. Fortune.com reported that the stock is now trading at its highest level in 13 years since September 2005.

Total revenue for The Times in the fourth quarter was $503 million, a nearly 4 percent increase from the previous year. Operating profits fell by 17.5 percent — or $75 million — due in part to an extra week in the fourth quarter the previous year.

Digital advertising also surpassed print advertising for the first time in the fourth quarter, hiking 23 percent to $103 million as print advertising fell 10 percent to $88 million.

“Our appeal to subscribers — and to the world’s leading advertisers — depends more than anything on the quality of our journalism,” Thompson said. “That is why we have increased, rather than cut back, our investment in our newsroom and opinion departments. We want to accelerate our digital growth further, so in 2019, we will direct fresh investment into journalism, product and marketing.”

The company also added 120 newsroom employees last year, bringing the total number of journalists at The Times to 16,000 — its largest count in history.

News of The Times’s staffing follows announcements from other media companies this month about massive layoffs.

BuzzFeed announced that roughly 15 percent of its staffers would be laid off as the company attempts to reach a sustainable growth model, while HuffPost laid off around 20 journalists. An estimated 1,000 people were affected by the layoffs at the two companies as the outlets made sizable cuts to newsroom operations and creative personnel.

Vice Media also announced it would lay off about 10 percent of its current workforce as the company reorients and eliminates redundant positions. 

Trump jabbed the news organization after the announcement, calling them “Fake News and bad journalism.” 

Trump and his officials often attack the news media's coverage of his administration. He has made the claim, without evidence, that The Times apologized to the president for its coverage of the 2016 election.