GROWING MARTHA: Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia recently walked away from a potential acquisition, but, looking forward, executives insist the company is highly interested in acquiring Internet companies that would provide “quality traffic” and brands that have a lot of consumer interest (which, presumably, could mean anything, given Martha Stewart’s recent tie-up with Costco to do a line of fresh and frozen foods). But don’t expect the company to bulk up its magazine business: During a call Friday to report the company’s third-quarter earnings, Susan Lyne, president and chief executive officer, claimed MSLO isn’t focused on acquiring print publications. She also didn’t address the outlook for the magazine that is reportedly being tested for an older demographic.
The company is in “stage one” of developing Marthapedia, although a decision has not been made on whether the Web site will actually launch. Billed as a site that would offer “millions of pieces of information” on anything from organizing a pantry to how to properly wash clothing, Marthapedia’s future, or lack thereof, will be determined during the fourth quarter, added Lyne.
The company’s net loss decreased substantially in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, to $4.4 million from $25.2 million, while total revenues rose 13.4 percent to $69.3 million. The third-quarter results were driven mainly by ad revenue growth in publishing and revenue from the company’s book deal with Clarkson Potter. Howard Hochhauser, chief financial officer, addressed the current low stock price, at $12.35 a share, noting the company is not currently planning to buy back stock, but may consider it next year.
Besides the numbers, MSLO had good news on the publishing front: In January, the rate base of Martha Stewart Living will increase to 2 million from 1.95 million, Blueprint will rise to 450,000 from 400,000 and body + soul also will grow by 50,000 to 500,000. Everyday Food’s rate base will jump 25,000 to 900,000. In the quarter, total advertising revenue increased 40 percent in the publishing division and pages rose 25 percent at Martha Stewart Living, 21 percent at Everyday Food and 16 percent at body + soul.
— Amy Wicks
CONTINENTAL SHUFFLE: Siddhartha Shukla has been named director of communications at Yves Saint Laurent in Paris, in charge of press, public relations and media planning. Previously, he was vice president of communications at YSL in the U.S. Also, Philippe Contini has been named YSL’s director of image, in charge of visual merchandising, corporate image and fashion shows and special events. Changes in YSL’s communications department were set in motion last month when Thomas du Pré de Saint Maur, who had been worldwide communications director, moved over to YSL Beauté as vice president, international brands, effective this week.
— Miles Socha