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Martha Narrows Loss

New York — Helped by gains in its core publishing business, which offset continued declines elsewhere, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia reported a slightly narrowed first quarter loss of $19.2 million, compared with a year-before deficit of $19.5 million.

Sales at Stewart's diversified media and retailing company continued to slide, but at a modestly slower pace, declining 13.1 percent, to $38.7 million from $44.5 million last year, improving somewhat on a 15 percent sales slide during the preceding fourth quarter of 2004.

The bright spot in the operation was the core publishing business, which climbed back on track after Stewart was released from prison, with sales advancing 6 percent, to $25.4 million. That marks a considerable improvement over a slide of 21.1 percent during last year's fourth quarter. Driving the increase in publishing dollars was stronger sales at Everyday Food stemming from higher ad rates and increased circulation.

Merchandising revenues — derived largely from Stewart's relationship with Kmart — fell 12.9 percent, to $9.4 million from $10.8 million, due to lower sales of Martha Stewart Everyday products. Sales declines in home and paint lines were partially offset by growth in garden and housewares products.

Notably hard hit during Stewart's incarceration were television sales, which tumbled 80.9 percent, to $797,000 from $4.2 million last year.

“We see early signs of improvement in our core publishing business, and while this will not be an overnight recovery, we believe this trend will continue over the long term,” said Susan Lyne, president and CEO.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc.

Qtr. 3/31 (x000) 2005 2004 %change
(loss)
a. First quarter results includes $3.2 million in amortization of non-cash equity compensation, compared with $5.6 million during the same period a year ago; $769,000 in interest income, compared with $362,000 last year; an income-tax benefit of $23,000, compared with $3.1 million last year; and a $132,000 loss from discontinued operations, compared with $161,000 during the year-ago period.
Sales $38,666 $44,501 -13.1
Oper. Income (EBIT) (14,876) (13,410)
Net income (19,168)a (19,481)a
Per share (diluted) (0.38) (0.39)
Average gross margin 39.1% 35.0%
SG&A expenses 77.5% 65.1%


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