Company posts 26% drop in first-quarter earnings

The Gray Lady’s numbers are looking a little bleak.

The New York Times Co. has reported that profit dropped 26% to $24 million in the first quarter vs. $32 million a year earlier. Revenue slid 2% to $786 million.

Numbers actually were slightly ahead of Wall Street expectations, but the company faces the added woe of slowing Web coin.

Internet advertising grew by 22% — a much smaller increase than the 41% the company clocked last year. Execs also acknowledged that the growth rate for the year would come in lower than the 30% the Times had previously forecast.

Investors were dismayed by the earnings news and sent the stock down 3%.

Times execs also disclosed that the company had hired a consulting firm to investigate cost-cutting.

Many of the companies that depend on ad revenue have been dinged by Web advertising; earlier in the week, Yahoo! reported an 11% drop in first-quarter profit, also in part because of an ad slowdown.

News adds to the Gray Lady’s recent Wall Street woes.

Two financial advisory forms recommended that investors withhold support for public directors to protest the Times dual-stock system, which critics say concentrates power in the hands of the Ochs-Sulzberger family.

Voting on directors is set to take place at the company’s annual meeting next week.

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