MARTHA STEWART COMPANY BREAKS LOSING STREAK

Reports Net Income -- Rather Than Loss -- for Fourth Quarter

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Donald Trump may not like it, but redemption looks near for Martha Stewart -- financial redemption, anyway.

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While she and The Donald exchanged assignments of blame this week for Ms. Stewart’s edition of “The Apprentice,” her company also reported its full-year results, revealing a comeback that seems to have legs.

A profitable quarter ... finally
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia lost a lot of money in 2005 -- nearly $78.8 million, in fact. But its fourth-quarter net income of $2.9 million broke a streak of seven quarterly losses going back to Ms. Stewart’s March 2004 conviction for obstructing justice and lying to the government.

“The results for the quarter show meaningful improvement in all areas of our business,” President-CEO Susan Lyne told investors. “Results outpaced expectations in every segment.”

Publications make strides
Martha Stewart Living, which experienced a significant decrease in advertisers when Ms. Stewart went to prison, saw ad pages leap 133% in the fourth quarter for a 44% year-long rise. Everyday Food, the company’s recipe digest, grew ad pages 30% in 2005.

The quarter included broadcasting revenue of $11 million, up from $1.1 million in the fourth quarter one year prior, largely on the strength of the syndicated “Martha” show and six weeks of revenue from the new Martha Stewart Living Radio channel on Sirius. “Martha” is averaging 1.9 million households, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Troubles with Trump
The one sour spot this week was the spat with Mr. Trump, which reminded everyone of Ms. Stewart’s derided “Apprentice” season just when it was about to fade from memory.

Ms. Stewart told Newsweek that she would have done better if the original “Apprentice” had cleared out of the way, adding that airing two versions at once was unfair to Mr. Trump -- and unfair to her. Mr. Trump released a letter calling her edition a "mistake for everybody" and a "failed show" that “never had a chance” partly because of her “terrible” performance.

At which point the strength of an “omnimedia” strategy became clearer; despite all the setbacks, Ms. Stewart’s company -- with its many properties -- is on track.

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