A number of financial bloggers and technology titans are now saying the Times won't survive the year. Even after suspending the dividend, NYT will struggle to be cash-flow positive, particularly considering it has to service a crushing 14% interest burden on the recent Hail Mary $250 million loan package from Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim Helu.
The Sulzberger family, which has relied on dividends to sustain its lifestyle, is pursuing all options, including selling the company's stake in the Boston Red Sox baseball team and a proposed sale-leaseback arrangement on the ill-advised, $500 million Renzo Piano NYT HQ in Midtown. That shows you how desperate the situation has become that the family is wiling to shut down its own income stream.
But the reality is, it's not clear that even after these moves, which could raise in the neighborhood of $500 to $1 billion, that would be enough to save the Times, which has looming debts due of at least that much in the next few years. With the market essentially valuing newspapers at zero (witness the difficulty finding suitors for newspaper in Denver, Minneapolis, and Seattle among others) and dailies shuttering in droves, the Times has very little hope for any new capital infusions, barring harsh terms even worse than the pound of flesh extracted by Slim Helu.
A sad truth about most processes towards death is that they happen slowly then very quickly towards the end. The unraveling of the New York Times as a publicly traded company has happened at light speed -- shares were trading many times higher than the current sub-$5 ticker shock price even a mere two years ago.
Perhaps Bloomberg or News Corp. will ride in and save the Times, but with both of those companies laying off their own reporters (a first at Bloomberg, a shock at Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal) it hardly seems the opportune time to go acquisition happy. Good luck, Gray Lady. I sure hope you can make it and I'll certainly miss you when you are gone.
Alex Salkever is the Director of Research at Piqqem, a "Wisdom of Crowds" online stock research tool and investing community.