NEW YORK — The New York Times Co., owner of The Boston Globe, reported a sharp decline in earnings Thursday, mainly because businesses it sold last year were not included in the latest results. The company earned $3.1 million, or 2 cents per share, in the January-March quarter. That was down 93 percent from $42.1 million, or 28 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier.
Excluding severance costs and the results of businesses the company sold, earnings were 4 cents per share, matching Wall Street expectations but down from 5 cents in the first quarter of 2012.
Revenue fell 2 percent to $465.9 million. Advertising revenue dropped 11 percent to $191.1 million. Circulation revenue rose 7 percent to $241.8 million as the company attracted more digital and print subscribers. It ended the quarter with 708,000 digital-only subscription accounts, up 45 percent from a year earlier.
The New England Media Group, which includes The Globe, BostonGlobe.com, and Boston.com as well as the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, had first-quarter revenue of $85.26 million, down 6.7 percent on a year-to-year basis. Paid digital subscribers to BostonGlobe.com and The Boston Globe’s e-readers and replica editions was about 32,000.
The Times Co. has put the New England Media Group up for sale.
It also plans lower-priced subscriptions, premium subscriptions, e-commerce, and enhanced video.
‘‘We mean to grow our business by launching new products and services based on the unique strengths of Times journalism and by investing in the rapid expansion of existing operations — video and live events are examples — where we’re already seeing strong growth,’’ chief executive Mark Thompson said.
Games are another area of interest. Last year, the company expanded its famous crossword franchise with increased marketing of its Web and mobile crossword products.
The company expects circulation revenue to increase in the mid-single digits in the second quarter.
The stock rose 5 percent to close at $9.45.