NYTimes sees sharper ad sales drop in third quarter

NEW YORK Wed Sep 21, 2011 6:12pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York Times Co warned its third-quarter advertising revenue would drop by a larger-than-expected 8 percent, hurt by a pullback in real estate, help wanted and national auto ads.

New York Times Chief Executive Janet Robinson, speaking at a Goldman Sachs conference on Wednesday, cited tough economic conditions, saying advertisers were less confident about making upfront commitments.

She said print advertising revenue was feeling the sharpest pinch, forecasting a drop of about 10 percent in the quarter. Digital advertising revenue is likely to be down 2 to 3 percent, she said.

The company said in July that advertising revenue was expected to decline in the 4 percent range.

Newspapers have been hammered by declines in advertising revenue for several quarters as marketers spend money in other media, especially digital. New jitters that the economy could face another downturn only add to the industry's woes.

Robinson said circulation revenue would be up about 4 percent.

The paper's first female executive editor, Jill Abramson, told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday she hoped the ad revenue drop would not lead to any more job cuts at the paper over the next year.

"The economy is so uncertain at this point -- I certainly haven't been told by anybody that there will be specific consequences of any economic trends right now. But it's a very cloudy economy," said Abramson, who officially took over control of the paper from Bill Keller earlier this month.

She added she believed the paper was "in a good position right now" due to the paper's Web subscription plan guaranteeing revenue from "a loyal audience" who "think the news that we have is worth paying for."

The company had not been hurt by print advertising declines as much as other publications and the circulation "remains healthy," she said.

Analysts on average are expecting third-quarter total revenue to fall about 1 percent to $549.8 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Shares of the New York Times Co fell 46 cents, or 6.9 percent, to close at $6.18.

(Additional reporting by Christine Kearney, Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Richard Chang)

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