New York Times Co. Suspends Dividend; Share Price Less Than Cost of Sunday NYT

February 20th, 2009 9:03 AM

NYTlogoInMonitorWithDollarSignYesterday, The New York Times Company suspended its quarterly dividend. The company's stock slid 5% to close at $3.51, yet another all-time low in the company's nearly 23 years as a public company in its current form (the Times has been a public company since the 1960s).

Henry Blodget at Silicon Valley Insider noted, even before yesterday's announcement and share-price dip, that the company's share price is lower than the $4 cost of its flagship publication's Sunday newspaper.

It has been nearly seven years since its New York Times newspaper slid into serious Bush Derangement Syndrome, and a bit over a year since the onset of its Obamamania obsession (the Times essentially wrote off Hillary Clinton's presidential candidacy after Super Tuesday last year). Since June 2002, the stock is down 93%:


Here are excerpts from the Times's coverage of the parent company's decision, written by Richard Perez-Peña:

The New York Times Company suspended dividend payments to shareholders on Thursday for the first time in four decades as a publicly traded company, another in a series of concessions because of sharply lower newspaper revenue.

The decision by the board pre-empts a dividend payment that, on the usual schedule, would have been paid later this month. The annualized savings is just $34.5 million, because the dividend was already cut sharply last fall.

“Today’s decision provides the company with additional financial flexibility given the current economic environment and the uncertain business outlook,” the company chairman, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., said in a statement.

..... The Times Company’s overall revenue last year fell 7.7 percent, and its newspaper ad revenue dropped 14.2 percent.

..... The company has a two-class stock structure, with the majority of the supervoting shares held by a trust for Mr. Sulzberger’s extended family. For members of the family, the dividend has been a major source of income.

The trust released a statement saying, “In light of the economic climate and the challenges facing the media industry, the trustees believe that the board’s suspension of the dividend is in the best interests of all shareholders. All of the trustees remain committed to the editorial integrity and independence of The New York Times.”

Perhaps we have arrived at the point many predicted would come to pass: The "venerable" New York Times may no longer be the national newspaper of record. The Associated Press, at least within the US, seems to have edged it out and is pulling away as the news source of record in the Internet Era. Whether we're better off is, as longtime NB readers know, a dubious proposition. 

The march of NYT's flagship publication towards becoming Manhattan's quaint little alternative newspaper continues, apparently unabated.