Despite headlines, Stewart profits

Don Hogsett, March 8, 2004

Even though the personal legal woes of lifestyle impresario Martha Stewart are taking a heavy toll on her magazine and television operations, her various merchandise lines continue to click with consumers, and helped her company to bound back from an earlier loss with an unexpectedly strong fourth-quarter profit of $4.6 million.

Driving the earnings rebound, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia virtually doubled its merchandising results to $22.5 million from $11.8 million last year, as the company banked minimum guarantees from Kmart and continued to grow its Martha Stewart Signature furniture line from Bernhardt.

Other segments of the Stewart operation continued to stumble in the wake of her legal problems, and revenues from publishing, television and the Internet continued to tumble, driving down total company sales. Overall sales of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia slipped by 8.6 percent, to $70.9 million from $77.6 million last year.

Hardest hit was the Stewart publishing business, where sales fell off by more than a fourth, declining by 27.5 percent, to $33.1 million from $45.7 million last year. Television revenues decreased by 6.8 percent, to $5.9 million from $6.4 million.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia

Qtr. 12/31 (x000) 2003 2002 % chg
(...) - Denotes decline
a-Fourth-quarter results include interest income of $349,000 vs. $517,000 in the same period a year ago; a $1.3 million provision for income taxes, compared with a prior-year tax benefit of $1.4 million; and a $204,000 loss from discontinued operations, compared with a year-before loss of $573,000. Prior-year results included a $7.7 million restructuring charge.
b-12-month results include interest income of $1.4 million, compared with $2.1 million last year; an income-tax provision of $3 million, compared with a year-before income-tax benefit of $8.8 million; and a loss from discontinued operations of $848,000 vs. $2.9 million the year before.
Sales $70,862 $77,557 -8.6
Oper. income (EBIT) 9,398 6,955 35.1
Net income 4,644a (2,002)a --
Per share (diluted) 0.09 (0.04) --
Average gross margin 52.3% 40.0% --
SG&A expenses 39.0% 31.1% --
12 months 2003 2002 % chg
Sales 245,848 295,049 -16.7
Oper. income (EBIT 3,264 39,316 -91.7
Net income (2,771)b 7,268b --
Per share (diluted) (0.06) 0.15 --
Average gross margin 44.5% 45.2% --
SG&A expenses 43.2% 31.9% --

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