STILL STRATEGIZING: For those who thought Portfolio might have at last found a tried-and-true cover formula, think again. According to the magazine’s newsstand figures, conceptual covers and those featuring real-life executives have performed almost equally so far this year. Sources close to Portfolio estimated that both the February issue with a condiment-packed burger on the cover and the July one with Starbucks founder Howard Schultz have been the strongest sellers thus far in 2008, selling around 29,000 copies each. The January cover of a model dressed as a spy and the April issue with a pale woman’s leg in a red high heel sold just about as many copies as Portfolio’s June issue with IAC/InterActive Corp.’s Barry Diller, or about 25,000 copies on average. The August issue featured another portrait — of Countrywide co-founder Angelo Mozilo — but estimates of its sales aren’t yet available.

While the figures don’t indicate a clear winner — billionaire over burger, say — sources said Portfolio plans to stick with portraits on its covers for the foreseeable future. September’s issue features NBC Universal chief executive Jeff Zucker.

This story first appeared in the August 15, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

And it isn’t like Portfolio’s newsstand figures pale in comparison to those of its competition. Business magazines in general aren’t stellar newsstand performers (does the average person even know, or care, who Meredith Whitney, this month’s Fortune cover girl, is?) Through the first half, Fortune sold 35,789 single copies, or 4.1 percent of its 866,859 total paid circulation, down 3 percent. Fast Company sold on average 30,085 newsstand copies a month, or 4.1 percent of total paid circulation of 742,000, which was up 24 percent; the biweekly Forbes reported an average of 32,096 newsstand copies, or 3.5 percent of its 927,000 total circulation, representing a newsstand fall of 6 percent, according to figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Portfolio will release its first audited figures in the fall, which are expected to show total paid circulation of 420,000 copies for the first half; subscriptions for the title through June have totaled 337,000 copies.

— Stephanie D. Smith

NEWS AT AMI — AND IT ISN’T JUST JOHN EDWARDS: American Media Inc. has been on a roll in the last few weeks thanks to its National Enquirer operation blowing away all media in coverage of the John Edwards sex scandal. Now it has more good news: The publishing group on Thursday reported net profits of $388,000 in the first quarter versus a net loss of $123,000 in the same period a year ago. Revenues were down 2 percent to $119 million because, like every other publisher, AMI has seen general market softness in ad spending. Chief executive officer David Pecker said AMI’s ad pages were down 3.2 percent from Jan. 1 through July 31, but claimed that’s the smallest decline of any publisher with more than 3,000 ad pages.

— Amy Wicks

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