By Laharee Chatterjee
(Reuters) - The New York Times Co <NYT.N> reported lower-than-expected quarterly revenue and warned of pressure in the ad space that would crimp holiday advertising revenue, sending its shares down more than 5 percent on Wednesday.
Key holiday-quarter total advertising revenue is expected to decrease to low-double digits with digital advertising flat or decreasing slightly, Chief Financial Officer James Follo said in a post-earnings call.
"In general, we'll continue to see some pressure on ad supply," Chief Operating Officer Meredith Kopit Levien said.
The company saw healthy gains in digital advertising revenue in the latest quarter but core print advertising revenue, accounting for almost three-quarters of total ad revenue, dropped 20 percent.
Over the past several years to make up for lower print sales, the New York Times has focused on digital and in the quarter it added about 154,000 subscribers, boosting its digital subscribers to 2.5 million.
If the company monetizes additional drivers of growth like price increases for its digital product with its present subscribers, it could drive substantial operating leverage, Kannan Venkateshwar, analyst at Barclays Capital wrote in a note.
The newspaper publisher has been attracting more paying online readers through discounts and has been boosting digital subscriptions by tying up with online services such as Spotify.
The Times' Truth campaign, which was launched in response to President Donald Trump's attacks on the newspaper, has also helped drive subscriptions.
Major newspapers have been building on their online readership since the 2016 presidential election, as they market their unbiased reporting as a sales strategy.
The paper's print advertising revenue fell to $64.4 million. Digital advertising rose 11 percent to $49.2 million, accounting for about 43 percent of total advertising revenue.
Earnings rose to $32.3 million from $406,000 a year earlier. On a per-share basis, it earned 20 cents per share, compared with break-even last year.
Excluding items, earnings were 13 cents per share from continuing operations, beating analysts' average estimate of 8 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue rose 6.1 percent to $385.6 million. Analysts on average had expected $389 million.
Shares were up at $18.10 in mid-day trade. Up to Tuesday's close shares rose 42.9 percent to $19.01 year-to-date.
(Reporting by Laharee Chatterjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva, Bernard Orr)