Can Donald Trump Put The New York Times (NYT) Out of Business?
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The New York Times (NYSE: NYT), the paper of record in the United States for decades, has a major fight on its hands with the election Donald Trump as U.S. President. Trump, throughout his campaign, has ridiculed the paper for its liberal bias and negative coverage of him. This taunting continued after his victory with the President-elect tweeting yesterday, "The failing @nytimes story is so totally wrong on transition. It is going so smoothly. Also, I have spoken to many foreign leaders." The old saying "never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel" seems to have lost its luster with the rise of Twitter, which Trump has used actively and effectively before, during and after the election.
It's no secret that with most news now consumed online, declining subscribers and ad revenue have crushed the Times and others traditional papers. To illustrate, The Time's average weekday and Sunday circulations for the 12-month period ended September 30, 1998 was 1.09 million and 1.6 million, respectively. It is down to 600K and 1.1 million, respectively, at year end 2015. The company's digital business has been a bright spot, but it's not enough to replace its prior dominating print business. Revenue of $2.94 billion is 1998 dropped to $1.6 million in 2015. Net income of $278 million in 1998 fell to $63 million in 2015.
To any casual observer, it appears Mr. Trump is hellbent on accelerating this decline and putting The Times out of business. While it remains to be seen if Trump's constant bombardment of The Times will have any long-term repercussions, today the paper scored a small victory in its fight for survival.
The New York Times announced Thursday, in what appears to be a direct response to Mr. Trump, that in the seven-day period since Election Day, it had a net increase of 41,000 paid subscriptions to its news products, both print and digital, the largest one-week subscription increase since the first week of the digital pay model in 2011. In addition, through November 15, The Times has added over 100,000 net new digital subscriptions so far this quarter. Web traffic and engagement were also strong.
The Times is certainly in the fight of its life with Trump, however, investors and readers today can feel more confident that the paper can weather yet another U.S. President, no matter how unconventional he may be.
Shares of the New York Times are up 0.8% today and 12% since the election.
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