Condé Nast to close Portfolio magazine after 2 years

April 27, 2009 4:21 PM CDT

by Greg Bensinger Bloomberg News

Condé Nast is closing its Portfolio business magazine after two years, saying the title didn’t meet revenue forecasts and it is too expensive to operate.

Joanne Lipman, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, and the publisher, William Li, are among about 85 people who will leave the company as a result of the closing after the May issue, Maurie Perl, a Condé Nast spokeswoman, said Monday.

Portfolio, started in May 2007 to challenge titles such as BusinessWeek and Time Warner Inc.’s Fortune, failed to take off in the advertising slump. Portfolio’s ad sales dropped 49 percent in the first quarter, compared with a 20 percent decline industrywide, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.

“This speaks volumes for what’s happening in the industry today: Either you’re a high-end, stronger advertiser and you’re pulling back, or you’re on the low-end and you’ve stopped altogether,” said Kevin Kamen, chief executive officer of Kamen & Co., which helps broker media assets, in Baldwin, New York. “You’ve got to worry about some of these niche magazines.”

Condé Nast had planned to spend about $100 million over five years to six years on Portfolio after its introduction, AdAge reported, without saying where it got the information. In 2005, the publisher of Vogue and the New Yorker had lured Lipman away from the Wall Street Journal to run its first business magazine.

David Carey, group publisher for Conde Nast, said in 2006 he hoped to increase the paid subscriber base of the magazine to 650,000 by 2012. Last year, the total circulation, including single-copy sales, was about 450,000, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Condé Nast, the New York-based unit of privately held Advance Publications Inc., has shuttered its Domino and Golf for Women magazines over the past year as marketers cut spending in the recession.

Portfolio’s ad sales fell to $4.1 million as ad pages plunged 61 percent, according to PIB, an industry group. Ad revenue at McGraw Hill Cos.’ BusinessWeek fell 37 percent in the quarter. Fortune sank 24 percent and Forbes dropped 8.8 percent.

“The pressures and realities of the continuous deep economic slump have lowered Portfolio’s revenue projections below what is needed to continue publication,” Conde Nast Chief Executive Officer Charles Townsend said in a statement.

In October, Condé Nast announced a plan to cut Portfolio’s frequency to 10 issues a year from 12 and reduced its Web staff.

The magazine received one National Magazine award last year, according to the statement