Janet Robinson will step down as chief executive of the New York Times Co at the end of the month, as the company continues to struggle with advertising declines and a years-long slump in its share price.
The Times Co gave no explanation for Robinson's sudden departure, which caught analysts as well as company insiders by surprise. Speculation among industry observers and the analyst community centered on the company's faltering stock price, which has declined more than 80 percent since Robinson was appointed CEO in December 2004. This year alone, shares are down nearly 25 percent, a performance that has frustrated investors.
Times Co shares, which had traded in the mid-$30s during one point in Robinson's tenure, closed trading Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange up 1.8 percent, or 13 cents, to $7.53.
"It is very unusual to have a long-time CEO suddenly announce her leaving within two weeks with no replacement," said Evercore Partners analyst Douglas Arthur. "She's done a lot of good things but at the end of the day the stock price is the ultimate measure of success."
In a recent interview, Robinson said she considered it a "mandate to increase shareholder value," but argued she had done so through building a "multiplatform company" even during a period of "economic uncertainty and secular pressures."
Within the New York Times' newsroom, word of the shakeup began to spread about 20 minutes before the announcement.
"No one had an inkling this was coming," said a source at the paper ...