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New York Times shares jumped by the most in over four years on Wednesday after the newspaper reported record digital subscriber growth during the first quarter.

The stock jumped 11.5 per cent – the most since February 2013 – to $15.95 in early trading, putting the shares near the record high of $16.35 reached earlier this year.

The gain extends the shares’ gains this year to nearly 20 per cent.

It comes after the New York Times said it has signed up 308,000 net digital-only news subscribers in the first three months of the year, the strongest growth in any quarter since the newspaper implemented its online paywall in 2011. Digital news subscriptions reached nearly 2m, and the paper now counts more than 3m total print and online subscribers.

Mark Thompson, NYT chief executive, called the online subscription boost “astonishing.” He added: “These results show the current strength and future potential of our digital strategy not just to reach a large audience, but also to deliver substantial revenue.”

But the company warned that digital circulation growth will probably be slower in the second quarter after strong gains in the months following the election.

Despite its digital strength, the NYT is still struggling with an industry-wide slump in print advertising that dragged down total ad sales 7 per cent.

Overall revenue rose 5 per cent to $399m, ahead of forecasts. The company swung to net income of $13.2m from a net loss of $13.6m last year. Excluding some items, earnings of 11 cents a share beat Wall Street’s expectations of 7 cents.

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