August 6, 2021

The New York Times Company Reports a Profit

The company, which reported its earnings for July through September on Thursday, posted a profit of $15.7 million, compared with a loss of $4.3 million during the third quarter last year. That translated to earnings of 10 cents a diluted share versus a loss of 3 cents a share a year ago.

Costs decreased during the quarter, falling 3.6 percent to $504.2 million. Circulation revenue grew by 3.4 percent to $237 million.

Total advertising revenue, meanwhile, slipped 8.8 percent, to $262 million, as national and classified advertising and the company’s About.com group proved particularly weak. Revenue in every advertising category was down, a sign of the challenges the industry faces in a stagnant economy.

The company benefited from a $65.3 million pre-tax gain from the sale of part of its stake in the Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Boston Red Sox. It also recorded a $46.4 million charge related to a repayment of the $250 million it borrowed from Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helú. The repayment in August came three and a half years before it was due.

“Despite a challenging advertising environment, our operating profit grew,” said Janet L. Robinson, president and chief executive officer of the Times Company. “These results highlight the strength of The Times brand and its ability to further monetize its world-class news, analysis and commentary.”

Operating profit for the quarter was $33 million, compared with $9 million a year ago. Excluding special items, operating profit grew 5.5 percent, to $65.5 million. 

The Times now has 324,000 paid subscribers to the various digital editions of the paper, including e-readers and its Web site, compared with 281,000 at the end of the second quarter. Those figures do not include the 100,000 users who receive access to NYTimes.com free through a sponsorship by the Ford Motor Company.

The Times said that about 800,000 home delivery customers had linked their accounts to NYTimes.com and now receive access free. New orders for print subscriptions continued to increase, the company said, a rise it attributed to the free Web access that accompanies the subscriptions.

(The Boston Globe just began charging users of its Web site, so those results were not reflected in the third quarter.)

Digital advertising revenue at the company’s News Media Group, which includes the newspaper businesses, increased 6.2 percent to $50.3 million, a slower rate of increase than in previous quarters, which the company attributed to a weaker economy. Digital advertising revenue for the company over all actually fell 4.5 percent, to $74.8 million, due in part to weakness at About.com, which is suffering from a change in the way Google directs traffic to informational sites.

The About Group recently replaced its chief executive and is working through a turnaround plan that executives said is still in its early phases. Revenue at About decreased 20.8 percent to $25.7 million, mainly due to decreases in both cost-per-click advertising and display advertising.

Print advertising revenue declined 10.4 percent over all. 

The Times Company derived 28.6 percent of its advertising revenue from digital business in the third quarter.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: October 20, 2011

An earlier version of this article incorrectly said print subscriptions rose in the quarter. New print subscription orders and subscriber retentions rose, as did circulation revenue.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=8194f5cd280ae1430d8ff77ffe177587

A Debate Arises on Job Creation vs. Environmental Regulation

Republicans and business groups say yes, arguing that environmental protection is simply too expensive for a battered economy. They were quick to claim victory Friday after the Obama administration abandoned stricter ozone pollution standards.

Many economists agree that regulation comes with undeniable costs that can affect workers. Factories may close because of the high cost of cleanup, or owners may relocate to countries with weaker regulations.

But many experts say that the effects should be assessed through a nuanced tally of costs and benefits that takes into account both economic and societal factors. Some argue that the costs can be offset as companies develop cheaper ways to clean up pollutants, and others say that regulation is often blamed for job losses that occur for different reasons, like a stagnant economy. As companies develop new technologies to cope with regulatory requirements, some new jobs are created.

What’s more, some economists say, previous regulations, like the various amendments to the Clean Air Act, have resulted in far lower costs and job losses than industrial executives initially feared.

For example, when the Environmental Protection Agency first proposed amendments to the Clean Air Act aimed at reducing acid rain caused by power plant emissions, the electric utility industry warned that they would cost $7.5 billion and tens of thousands of jobs. But the cost of the program has been closer to $1 billion, said Dallas Burtraw, an economist at Resources for the Future, a nonprofit research group on the environment. And the E.P.A., in a paper published this year, cited studies showing that the law had been a modest net creator of jobs through industry spending on technology to comply with it.

The question of just how much environmental regulation hurts jobs is a particularly delicate one as leaders in Washington debate the best ways to address the nation’s stubbornly high unemployment rate. As President Obama prepares for an important speech on Thursday focusing on job creation, Republicans are pushing for a rollback in environmental regulations that they say saddle companies with onerous costs that curtail jobs without leading to significant improvement in environmental or public health.

 Part of the problem in evaluating the costs of regulation is that there have been few systematic studies of such costs after regulations are imposed.

“Regulations are put on the books and largely stay there unexamined,” said Michael Greenstone, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “This is part of the reason that these debates about regulations have a Groundhog’s Day quality to them.”

Mr. Greenstone has conducted one of the few studies that actually measure job losses related to environmental rules. In researching the amendments to the Clean Air Act that affected polluting plants from 1972 and 1987, he found that those companies lost almost 600,000 jobs compared with what would have happened without the regulations.

But Mr. Greenstone has also conducted research showing that clean air regulations have reduced infant mortality and increased housing prices, and indeed many economists argue that job losses should not be considered in isolation. They say the costs of regulations are dwarfed by the gains in lengthened lives, reduced hospitalizations and other health benefits, and by economic gains like the improvement to the real estate market.

Business groups also tend to cite regulation even if other factors are involved, critics say. The cement industry is currently warning that as many as 18 of the 100 cement plants currently operating in the United States could close down because of proposed stricter standards for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, resulting in the direct loss of 13,000 jobs.

An E.P.A. analysis of the proposed rules projects a much smaller effect, ranging from as few as 600 jobs lost to 1,300 jobs actually added in companies that make cleaner equipment.

Some cement plants could be at risk simply because of the economy. With the housing market on its knees, demand for cement is down by about 40 percent from its prerecession peak. According to Andy O’Hare, vice president for regulatory affairs at the Portland Cement Association, a trade group, about a third of the cement plants in the country are being shut off every other month.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=0fdfc0afcefcfabb6f3b2f0e16729c6d

Japan Announces Emergency Budget

The $48.5 billion budget is likely to be followed by more spending, as Japan takes on the gargantuan task of rebuilding the section of its Pacific coastline ravaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Parliament is expected to pass the budget next week.

At least 14,133 people been found dead, an additional 13,346 remain missing and more than 130,000 still live in evacuation centers. Government estimates put the total damage from the quake and tsunami at $300 billion.

The nuclear crisis set off by the tsunami has added to the human and economic toll. On Friday, the government banned residents from a 12-mile evacuation zone around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, where several reactors have suffered explosions and radiation leaks. A previous order urged but did not require evacuation from that zone; the government still recommends that residents leave if they are within 19 miles of the plant.

“We all share the hope that reconstruction does not mean a return to where we were, but the building of a brighter future,” Prime Minister Naoto Kan said at a news conference.

“I feel it was my fate to be prime minister at a time of great adversity,” said Mr. Kan, whose handling of the crises has been criticized sharply in Parliament and in the country at large.

Japan has rebounded from prior catastrophic disasters. The 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake, for example, killed as many as 140,000 people and brought widespread destruction to Tokyo. It also is thought to have wiped out almost 40 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. In comparison, the death toll from the March 11 quake and tsunami is far lower, and the economic damage is likely to add up to just a few percent of G.D.P.

Still, Japan faces different challenges now, which could weigh heavily as it rebuilds: a rapidly aging population, a long-stagnant economy and public debt that is already at twice the size of its economy, thanks to its profligate public works projects of the 1990s.

That debt burden adds serious obstacles to financing the great reconstruction. Raising taxes, for which there appears to be a measure of public support, will dampen already tepid personal consumption levels. Issuing more government bonds will add to the ballooning deficit.

Adding to the country’s troubled forecast, Mr. Kan’s grip on leadership appears to be weakening under the withering criticism, including charges that he bungled the initial response to the nuclear crisis, causing it to worsen.

The president of Fukushima Daiichi’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, visited an evacuation center on Friday that houses those evacuated from around the crippled plant.

“I have no words to express my regret,” the president, Masataka Shimizu, told the evacuees after making his way through cardboard beds and blankets. TV cameras in tow, he knelt on the ground and bowed deeply — the ultimate posture of apology in Japan.

Some refugees bowed deeply back, while others heckled him. “We all just want to go home,” one told him quietly.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=76fddc8730d55cc2cd561fee353f9549