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Business

New York Times Co. profit jumps after asset sales

The past year marked the first time that circulation revenue at the Times surpassed advertising revenue.

Carlo Allegri /Reuters

The past year marked the first time that circulation revenue at the Times surpassed advertising revenue.

The New York Times Co. reported a big jump in fourth-quarter profit Thursday, largely because of gains from asset sales. Net income was $176.9 million, or $1.14 a share, a 200 percent increase from $58.9 million, or 39 cents a share, in the period a year earlier.

The results were aided by a $164.6 million gain on the sale of the company’s stake in ­Indeed.com, a job search engine, and the sale of About Group, the online resource company, which closed on the first day of the fourth quarter for $300 million. The sale of About Group resulted in a total gain of $96.7 million, or $61.9 million after taxes.

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Income from continuing operations rose to $117 million, compared with $51 million in the period a year earlier.

Total revenue rose 5.2 percent, to $575.8 million. Overall, the company’s advertising revenue declined 3.1 percent. Print advertising at its newspapers, which include The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The International Herald Tribune, shrank by 5.6 percent and digital advertising revenue across the company rose by 5.1 percent. Circulation revenue grew 16.1 percent.

The company’s New England Media Group, which includes the Globe, Boston.com, and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, had fourth-quarter revenue of $107.7 million, up 3.1 percent from a year before.

For the entire year, Times Co. net income was $133 million, or 87 cents a share, versus a loss of $39.7 million, or 26 cents, in the previous year.

The past year marked the first time that circulation revenue surpassed advertising revenue. Circulation revenue grew 10.4 percent to $952.9 million, mainly from the growth in digital subscriptions and the rise in print circulation prices. Advertising for the year declined 5.9 percent, to $898.1 million.

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The number of paid subscribers to the website, e-reader, and other digital editions of the Times and International Herald Tribune reached about 640,000 at the end of the quarter, a 13 percent increase from 2012’s third quarter. Digital subscriptions to the Globe and BostonGlobe.com grew 8 percent, to about 28,000.

“The demonstrated willingness of users here and around the world to pay for the high-quality journalism for which The New York Times and the company’s other titles are renowned will be a key building block in the strategy for growth, which . . . I will have much more to say about later in the year,’’ said Mark Thompson, president and chief executive of the Times Co.

The Times expects ad revenue to stay sluggish in the first quarter and total circulation revenue to grow by ‘‘midsingle digits.’’ It ‘‘expects to benefit from its digital subscription initiatives as well as from the print circulation price increase at The New York Times,” it said.

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