UPDATE 1-NY Times reports ad revenue rise, ending years of drought

Thu Apr 24, 2014 9:19am EDT

(Adds more detail on advertising, outlook and executive comment)

By Jennifer Saba

April 24 (Reuters) - The New York Times Co on Thursday reported an almost 3 percent rise in first quarter total revenue on increases in advertising sales - a first for the company in several years.

The 3.4 percent increase in print and digital advertising revenue marks a milestone for the company that has been plagued by many quarters of declines as marketers choose to spend their budgets elsewhere.

New York Times Chief Executive Mark Thompson, who oversees the namesake newspaper, pointed to "paid posts" - content that is marked as advertising - that the newspaper introduced in the first quarter for helping to lift ad sales.

Digital advertising revenue was up 2.2 percent to $37.8 million.

Still, Thompson warned that the overall advertising environment is still uncertain and gains this quarter could be short-lived.

"We are certainly not claiming victory in advertising yet; we expect continued month-to-month volatility and recognize that we will face some significantly tougher year-on-year comparisons as the year goes on," he said in a statement.

The company forecast that total advertising revenue in second quarter is expected to decease in the mid-single digits compared to the same quarter a year ago.

Newspapers across the country have been racked with challenges as advertisers flee print and readers turn to smartphones and tablets to get their news.

The New York Times has been appealing to people to open their wallets to read the news and has rolled out a line up of digital products that require payment.

Subscription revenue, an important vein of money for the newspaper that includes money from its digital products, rose 2 percent to $209.7 million and now represents more than 50 percent of total revenue.

Net income fell by half for the first quarter to $1.7 million. Adjusted for a charge related to an early termination fee, earnings per share were 7 cents compared to 8 cents in the same quarter last year.

Total revenue of $390.4 million beat analysts expectations of $384.7 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

(Reporting by Jennifer Saba in New York, Editing by Franklin Paul)