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Merchandising Drives Martha Stewart Q4 Profit

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia posted fourth quarter and full-year results amid a media controversy about Macy’s dropping Emeril Lagasse’s cookware line, one owned by MSLO. The company reported fourth quarter revenues of $56.4 million versus $61.7 million in the year-prior period and an operating income of $1.4 million, boosted by gains in its merchandising segment, compared to a loss of $40,000 in the year-earlier timeframe.

The merchandising segment, which encompasses products developed for retail such as the Lagasse cookware line, was the only one of the three that comprise MSLO to show a fourth-quarter revenue gain, up to $16.2 million from $13.1 million in the year-earlier period, the company stated. At a time when the core publishing division turned in a loss, merchandising delivered the bulk of MSLO’s profit, with operating income arriving at $11.4 million versus $8.8 period in last year’s fourth quarter.

“Merchandising delivered a strong holiday season and a good year overall with strong revenue growth and improved profit margins,” Dan Taitz, interim principal executive officer, said.

Net income in 2012’s final quarter was $1.1 million, or two cents per share, versus $4.2 million, or seven cents per share, in the fiscal 2011 period. Fourth quarter 2012 results included $3.5 million in charges related to restructuring initiatives in the company’s media business. The final frame of 2011 included a $1.3 million restructuring charge related to severance costs and staffing adjustments but also a $4.7 million one-time benefit from sale of the company’s interest in WeddingWire, the company pointed out.

Full-year 2012 MSLO total revenues were $197.6 million versus $221.4 million in 2011. Operating loss was 56.4 million versus 18.6 million in 2011. Part of the 2012 result were restructuring and other non-recurring charges of $49.1 million, which included a $44.3 million non-cash impairment charge reflecting the write-down of goodwill related to MSLO’s publishing segment. Restructuring and other non-recurring charges in 2011 totaled $5.1 million, the company noted.

MSLO related that its 2012 net loss was $56.1 million, or 83 cents per share, compared to a net loss of $15.5 million, or 28 cents per share, in 2011. Excluding the restructuring and other non-recurring charges, 2012 net loss per share was 10 cents versus 19 cents for 2011, the company said.

Macy’s appointed Lagasse to its Culinary Council in 2009, not long after it began carrying MSLO product. Reports, related to testimony in Macy’s lawsuit that seeks to keep MSLO product out of J.C. Penney, that the department store chain had dropped the Lagasse line also came with a Macy’s contention that it dropped Emerilware due to performance issues.