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NO SMILES FOR MARTHA: Martha Stewart sure doesn’t have many fans on Wall Street today. Shares of the lifestyle diva’s company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., plunged 12 percent on Wednesday to $5.07 after the company revealed its core publishing business continues to struggle even as competing magazines show signs of a stronger heartbeat. While ad pages of the August issue of Martha Stewart Living were up 29 percent versus last year, this was against a very low base, and MSLO executives maintained a more conservative tone regarding the final four issues for 2010. A spokeswoman also didn’t comment by press time Wednesday on the September issue of the company’s flagship title. Most fashion and lifestyle magazines provided their advertising figures to WWD last week, but Martha Stewart Living declined — perhaps with good reason. During an earnings call with investors on Wednesday, the company reported operating income at the publishing division fell 30 percent to $2.1 million from $3 million a year ago, while revenues dropped almost nine percent to $30.6 million from $33.5 million, partly due to the timing of the spring issue of Martha Stewart Weddings, which this year occurred in the first quarter while in 2009 it appeared in the second. Excluding that, revenues would have been up 3 percent. Advertising revenues were $18.5 million and circulation revenues were $11.2 million. Meanwhile, MSLO’s Internet revenues rose 12 percent to $4.7 million from $4.1 million, with Web ad revenues up 13 percent compared to the prior year. Overall, MSLO reported lower net losses of $1.2 million versus $6.4 million a year before, on revenues that declined 3 percent to $55.3 million from $56.9 million. That didn’t help the shares, though. Maybe Martha should bake Wall Street some cookies?
— Amy Wicks