Shares of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. spiked up 26.3 percent on news that the company is in talks to be acquired by Sequential Brands Group Inc.
Sources said the home lifestyle firm was in talks with Authentic Brands Group earlier this year, but nothing came of those talks. ABG, like Sequential, are both brand management firms. These sources confirmed Thursday that talks between Sequential and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia are still ongoing. Neither Sequential nor Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia officials responded to requests for comment.
Shares of the home lifestyle firm closed at $6.44 in Big Board trading.
An acquisition would make sense since Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia is a licensing firm these days, and became one in October last year when it got out of the publishing game and licensed that operation to Meredith Corp. According to its annual report, or Form 10-K, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in March, the firm’s business is organized into three segments: publishing, merchandising and broadcasting.
The company ended 2014 widening its net loss to $5.1 million, or 9 cents a diluted share, from a net loss of $1.8 million, or 3 cents, in 2013. Total revenues slipped 11.7 percent to $141.9 million from $160.7 million in 2013.
The publishing segment has historically been the largest business segment for the firm, and accounted for 58 percent of revenues last year. Under the terms of the Meredith agreement, the publishing firm pays Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia for content for the Martha Stewart Living magazine; a share of the digital advertising revenues, including video advertising revenues, and a share of the annual operating profit from the production and distribution of the magazine. Meredith also has responsibility for the digital operations of marthastewart.com, except for content creation. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia still owns the underlying intellectual property assets.
Its merchandising operation, which is 40 percent of total revenues last year, includes licenses for product at The Home Depot, Macy’s, J.C. Penney and PetSmart. The company in 2008 acquired the Emeril Lagasse franchise, which includes television programming, licensed kitchen products and food products.
Broadcasting revenues last year represented 2 percent of total revenues.
Domestic doyenne Martha Stewart controls the company, and as of Feb. 28, 2015, holds 89 percent of the outstanding voting power of the company’s common stock. She serves as chief creative officer and nonexecutive chairman.
Speculation of a possible acquisition of the company was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.