SOMETHING COOKING: Emeril Lagasse's food franchises, which include his television programming and expanding cookbook businesses, is set to be acquired by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., but don't expect a magazine to follow. MSLO chief executive officer Susan Lyne said Tuesday during the company's fourth-quarter earnings call that Lagasse will instead work in some capacity with MSLO's current roster of magazines, such as the Everyday Food franchise, to build brand awareness. The deal with Lagasse came to fruition through a personal relationship with chairman Charles Koppelman. "Emeril never marketed the company," said Lyne of the deal, reportedly worth $50 million in cash and stock, adding that he was not in the market to sell.
As for the quarter ending Dec. 31, MSLO revenues were up 22.1 percent to $118.5 million over the same quarter the prior year. Net income more than doubled to $33.3 million. The company reported that fourth-quarter results were mainly driven by royalty revenues from its merchandising relationship with Kmart, which is coming to an end. In publishing, revenues for the quarter jumped 15 percent to $49.4 million, led by strong ad gains at Martha Stewart Living. However, while better, the publishing side remained in the red, with operating losses of $1.1 million, compared with a loss of $2.2 million in 2006. Ad revenues increased 30 percent in the fourth quarter, with pages up 12 percent at Martha Stewart Living, 9 percent at Everyday Food and 8 percent at Body + Soul. Lyne noted that in 2007, Blueprint, which was shuttered in December, had $7 million in revenues. At the start of this year, Martha Stewart Living raised its rate base to 2 million, Everyday Food is now at 900,000 and Body + Soul increased to 550,000. — Amy Wicks