NEW YORK -- The New York Times (IW 500/374) said Thursday that advertising income in both its print and digital editions increased for the first time in three years during the first quarter.

Despite lower profits in the January-March period -- blamed in part on the cost of recent strategic investments -- the newspaper group said there was a firm upturn in both advertising and circulation revenues.

Circulation brought in $209.7 million, a 2.1% gain from a year ago, and advertising earned $158.7 million, up 3.4%.

But costs rose at a faster pace, leaving operating profits at $22.1 million, down from $28.1 million in the first quarter of 2013.

Overall profits fell 51% to $1.7 million, or two cents a share.

Gains online were the strongest, as traditional print newspapers generally continued to shrink against the rise of Internet and mobile-available news.

The times said its paying digital subscribers rose to 799,000, 39,000 more than at the end of 2013.