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Trump Era Has Been Great News for New York Times Company's Shareholders

The media empire's flagship paper has seen subscription rates boom with Trump in office. But can the good times last?

The Trump era sure has been good for shareholders in what the president likes to call the "failing New York Times."

The New York Times Company stock has soared 141 percent since Election Day 2016. You'd have made more money if you'd bought Times stock on Election Day than if you had invested in a fund that tracks the Standard and Poor's 500 Index (up about 29 percent since Election Day). You even would have made more money with New York Times Co. stock than you would have if you had invested in high-tech stocks such as Facebook (up 62 percent), Amazon (up 118 percent), Apple (up 71percent), or Google parent company Alphabet (up 46percent).

No wonder President Clinton has reportedly been going around talking about how the Times struck a deal with Trump to get him elected because it would be good for the the paper's business. Trump has been good for the paper's business. Wall Street analysts and cable business news channel CNBC describe the post-election surge in Times digital subscription revenue as a "Trump Bump."

The New York Times Company stock went to $26.60 last week from $11.05 on Election Day 2016, according to Yahoo Finance's data, which adjusts for reinvested dividends. That's an increase of $15.55 a share. The stock hit a 52-week high last week.

The single biggest winner on that climb appears to be the Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helu. According to The New York Times Company's 2018 proxy statement, Slim controlled 27,191,500 shares of The New York Times Company Class A Common Stock as of February 15, 2018. Do the math, and Slim would have a paper profit of $422,827,825 on his investment since Election Day, though he has sold some shares between February and today. The Ochs-Sulzberger family descendants who control the Times Company also made some money on paper, though less than Slim, since the Ochs-Sulzberger family owns about a 9 percent economic interest in the Times Company, compared to Slim's 16.7 percent, according to the proxy statement.

The "Trump Bump" has been good for Carlos Slim and the Ochs-Sulzberger family's stock price. Whether it is good for Times journalism, and whether it's a sustainable long-term growth strategy for the Times Company, are different questions, however.

Media watchdogs have long praised subscription revenue for being aligned with, rather than conflicting with, a newspaper's journalistic mission. Academics worried that, say, ExxonMobil advertising would prevent the Times from aggressively covering climate change or that luxury fashion advertising would prevent the Times from aggressively covering poverty. They had few such worries about paying subscribers.

The reality may be more complicated, especially if what the hordes of new Times subscribers really want isn't exactly old-fashioned journalism but something more like opposition research.

At least two recent flaps suggest that some substantial portion of those new Times subscribers seem to regard the New York Times charge on their credit card bill less as a news expenditure than like something akin to a recurring contribution to the Democratic National Committee.

When an assistant managing editor of The New York Times, Carolyn Ryan, tweeted out a Times profile of Juanita Powell-Brunson, the paper's deputy director of newsroom operations, it generated a series of responses from people upset that the Times had declined to publish audio it had recorded of an interview with Trump White House official Stephen Miller. A comment on the Times website said the Times had "made the wrong decision": "A newspaper's capitulating to the 'White House' for any reason at this point in history is unforgivable." That comment got "recommend" upvotes from 146 Times readers.

Also generating ire on the left was a front-page Times article by Peter Baker and Katie Rogers reporting that "Trump's coarse discourse increasingly seems to inspire opponents to respond with vituperative words of their own." One NBC reporter tweeted, "A truly awful piece that I hope is taught in journalism schools in perpetuity. A person in power created actual baby internment camps, and somehow a NYT writer attempted to Both Sides it with words from protesters. A genuine disgrace."

Another Twitter user responded, "I canceled my subscription specifically because of this article. It was the final straw." Another wrote, "I canceled my subscription over this." Even Times opinion columnist Paul Krugman cast shade at the article by his Times colleagues, writing, "the real crisis is an upsurge in hatred—unreasoning hatred that bears no relationship to anything the victims have done. And anyone making excuses for that hatred—who tries, for example, to turn it into a 'both sides' story—is, in effect, an apologist for crimes against humanity."

The cover of the 2018 Times Company proxy statement features a Times promotional advertisement asserting, in part, "The truth doesn't take sides. The truth isn't red or blue." That may be true about "the truth," but it may not be true about all those new Times digital subscribers. Many of them are partisan anti-Trumpers.

Whether those customers will stick around to pay for aggressive New York Times coverage of, say, an Elizabeth Warren administration or a Bernie Sanders administration is an open question. If they don't, Times shares may eventually plunge back to their Obama administration price levels. Carlos Slim may find his newly created hundreds of million of dollars in value eliminated by a Democratic president just as quickly as President Trump created it.

Slim may understand this. Securities and Exchange Commission records indicate that between February 12 and June 21 of 2018, the number of Times shares he controls declined to 16,897,175 from 27,191,500, and his ownership stake declined to 10.3 percent from 16.8 percent. The Ochs-Sulzberger clan ownership stake has also declined, to 9 percent in 2018 from 11 percent in 2017, according to the proxy statements.

A conservative president who attacks the press turns out to be the best thing in years for a liberal newspaper's stock price. The newspaper's single largest owner, however, seems to have his doubts about how long it will last.

Ira Stoll is editor of FutureOfCapitalism.com and author of JFK, Conservative.

Photo Credit: ANDREW KELLY/REUTERS/Newscom

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  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Phew, we finally got a headline with "trump era" in it. Now everything feels back to normal.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

  • Eidde||

    For those who have ads, are they autoplaying?

  • Yellow Tony||

    It's 2018. Who doesn't have an adblocker?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I wonder how much these people read it though.

  • Just Say'n||

    Do they sell the NYT out in New Mexico or are you guys stuck with reading the Santa Fe New Mexican?

  • Citizen X||

    The New Mexican is funded almost entirely by ads for meth.

  • Just Say'n||

    Sounds like the type of paper that would endorse John McAfee. Good paper

  • Just Say'n||

    Just don't read the personals:

    "33 y/o f seeking meth"

  • Yellow Tony||

    John McAfee is a great president. People who love Trump's ostensibly crazy shit would foam at the mouth under a McAfee presidency. (That and the implication of what congress would like if McAfee were elected.)

  • Just Say'n||

    McAfee is president in your timeline?

  • Yellow Tony||

    That was the true Libertarian Moment™, baby.
    Another sexual revolution occurred. (Pansexuality and dickgirls become mainstream.)
    Precipitous rise in economic freedom
    First President to broadcast doing coke in the oval office while fucking his wives. (Polygamy became legal in all states.)
    The unjust wars ended.
    Prosperity was so great that the Sea People invaded. So while the unjust wars ended, Humanity had to unite against the scourge of the seamen.

  • Yellow Tony||

    It's all true, baby. I don't need an excuse to type the name of my father's gay strip club.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Right, I forgot that was the name of your father's gay strip club.

    What was the name of your gay father's strip club though?

  • Yellow Tony||

    He doesn't have one, faglord. He does own a family waterpark. So just because the police found him having CONSENSUAL sex with some barely legal boys behind The Great White Waterfall attraction doesn't mean you can joke about it.
    Not class at all, BUCS. Not classy at all.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Well why not? Your gay father's a nice guy. He deserves his own strip club too.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    And Green Chile sales.

    Y'all's stereotypes about New Mexico read like people who have never been there. It's all Green Chile and turquoise.

  • Just Say'n||

    I'm just kidding. Obviously no one reads the NYT.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Though I am interviewing for a job in New Mexico, I'm from Arizona.

    Good DAY sir.

  • Just Say'n||

    Forgive my geographic privilege

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Where at in NM?

  • Yellow Tony||

    a/s/l?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Albuquerque/Santa Fe.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Though I'm likely going to Denver as I got an offer from one of the Big 4 there.

  • SIV||

    Carlos Slim should pay a wall tax.

  • Yellow Tony||

    So I'm going to shill some music because it might be of interest to some of the people who shitpost here: this & that.
    Also, it's been sadly confirmed that Omega Labyrinth Z will have to be imported if you want to play it, just like the original version.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    WHAAAAAAT? They backed off on it? Is there at least going to be some random english version.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    It's astonishing that games are straight up banned in so many European countries. It's amazing that this is still a thing.

    Regardless of the game being basically porn, it's absurd that there is still that level of censorship in Europe. And no one bats an eye.

  • Yellow Tony||

    2D tiddies are serious business, homeboy.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    IT IS TO ME

  • gaoxiaen||

  • Yellow Tony||

    Yup. PQube couldn't get the confirmation from any of the Western rating boards (or at least from the rating boards in the countries that matter.) However, you can import an English version of the game from the many companies that handle such services. So now you have the plesaure to deal with expensive shipping and a higher price on the game itself! Fuck these Western prudes.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Which nation even got an English version?

  • Yellow Tony||

    From my understanding, Australia and the EU were going to have their own versions, but since the English distributor couldn't get any of their games rated in those territories, those versions of the game will now have to be obtained from Japan and possibly other Asian countries.
    Unrelated to this game, but Japanese games might have a version for the entirety of Asia where English subs might be included.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Yeah, I'm aware of that. I bought Super Robot Wars because it had the english built in. Same for I Am Setsuna on the Switch, just has English in it automatically.

    I'll import this if I can find an English version anywhere, but I'm too lazy to do the Japanese translation thing again. I did that once, and it's too damn hard. Even for a game which, I'm sure, is mostly just sound effects of girls crying.

    The underlying oddity of seeing a piece of work outright banned for sale in a large chunk of the world though stands. People don't care because video games are new media, and thus don't generate outrage when they are censored in the most extreme sense of the word.

  • Yellow Tony||

    I bought the original version of the game because I told myself I was nearing the point where I should be able to understand the game's text. Oh how deluded I was. So, yeah, I'm in the same boat as you. Play-asia will have the English versions in stock, but those fuckers are expensive and sometimes unreliable. I haven't looked elsewhere yet because it's still too soon I think. Ebay will probably have it though.

    The underlying oddity of seeing a piece of work outright banned for sale in a large chunk of the world though stands. People don't care because video games are new media, and thus don't generate outrage when they are censored in the most extreme sense of the word.


    It doesn't help that the game is Japanese and associated with cretins. (Though that is not to say that I'm not one.) Also there are people pushing for games to be considered true art, and works like Omega Labyrinth don't fit their narrative.
    People are so uppity about porn; it's hilarious.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I found a copy of Sakura Wars on the Saturn a few years ago and convinced myself I was ready.

    Nope.

    I will pre-order on Play Asia if they get it. I want it, because my money is a vote, and I vote for more BE themes in my video games.

  • BYODB||

    Interesting, I take this to mean that they're actually profitable again? Or are they still below water, even with all those percentage based increases?

  • BYODB||

    Oh, and for what's it's worth it's sort of bizarre reading about a journalist outlet that reads like an investment sheet. What is one investing in, with a paper? Ad revenue and subscription revenue, I'd guess.

    Well, perhaps for 'Slim' it's a mouthpiece. I wonder if his opinion closely tracks the Times, or if the Times closely tracks him.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    That 'high' stock price is half of the $51.50 stock price of 2002.

    We have reached peak stupid with NYT because Trump is president, so has their stock price.

    Once lefties figure out that NYT cannot save them from Trump, subscriptions will taper off.

  • Yellow Tony||

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Is the first Best Korea?

  • Yellow Tony||

    The best country is isolated by the sea, but it's not Best Korea. (They stopped being in contention when they skipped their anit-USA parade. LOSERS.)

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    You best not be saying Japan you god damn weeb. You best be talking about the Phillipines.

  • Yellow Tony||

    I might be a greasy fuck, but I take pride in the fact that I haven't deluded myself into thinking Japan is some super-fucking-awesome country; even if seeing them fight off the seamen scourge with katanas and primitive mechs was glorious.
    No, the country I'm referring to isn't even in that part of the globe.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I might be a greasy fuck, but I take pride in the fact that I haven't deluded myself into thinking Japan is some super-fucking-awesome country

    I'm happy to hear that. I truly am.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Fuck you, dolphins and whales!

  • Cynical Asshole||

    China wins again: John Oliver is being censored in The Second Greatest Country on Earth. (Guess the first!)

    Germany? It's always Germany. Or Hitler.

  • Number 2||

    "Academics worried that, say ... luxury fashion advertising would prevent the Times from aggressively covering poverty."

    Huh?

  • Sevo||

    "Trump Era Has Been Great News for New York Times Company's Shareholders"

    The "Trump Era" has been profitable to anyone who didn't short on Krugman's bullshit of 11/9/16.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    NYT stock was highest in 2002 at $51.50, now its highs are half that price.

    Media stocks are garbage.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Wait, what? The NY Times is a giant corporate profit machine? And it has served to enrich billionaires by stealing from millions of people?

    I demand the editorial board and the rest of the staff immediately commit ritual suicide!

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