It’s about as much fun being a newspaper publisher as an airline president these days, so Arthur Ochs “Pinch” Sulzberger, Jr. of the New York Times deserves our sympathy.
Last quarter’s earnings were dreadful.
Earnings per share from continuing operations were down almost 75% from the previous quarter as newspaper advertising revenue declined over 10% — a decline which according to the May earnings report accelerated to 11.9%.
Just last week, Lehman Brothers forecast that in a year, its common stock would decline in value by almost half.
Pinch is trying to save the independence of the family-controlled publishing concern (regarded within the family as a public trust), but in the process has put a legendary newspaper empire on a path of decline, eating into capital to pay dividends to the shareholders, paying off employees who accept buyouts, and hoping that the comparatively small internet operations of the company will someday grow enough to balance the decline of the newspaper business.
If he succeeds, the New York Times Company will end not with a bang, but a whimper: Liquidated with all stake holders addressed, if not fully content.
It is a dreadful comedown for a career that began almost regally.
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