Martha Stewart Living (MSO) executive resigns

| About: Martha Stewart (MSO)

Suzane Sobel, Publisher and Executive vice president of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (NYSE:MSO) resigned yesterday; Lauren Stanich, President of Publishing will assume her role while the company looks for a replacement.

MSO's magazine portfolio includes Martha Stewart Living, Everyday Food, and Body & Soul, which was recently acquired.  Recent results for these magazines were as follows:

  • Martha Stewart Living magazine: decline in advertising revenue due
    to: (1) 50% decrease in ad pages to 137 and (2) lower ad rates of
    $1.8M; newsstand sales down 3.5% despite sales of 500,000 copies of the
    December issue.
  • Everyday Food magazine: revenues increased 40% to $3.4M;
    subscriptions increased 250% to $608k from $239k as subscriptions base
    increased to 800,000 from 500,000 in September 2003.
  • Body & Soul magazine: revenues of $2M; expenses increased to $4.6M ($3.1M was acquisition related)

Quick comment: Sobel's resignation is apparently connected to Martha's imminent release from prison.  The  publishing unit clearly suffered while she was in jail, but seems poised for a rebound when she returns.  Everyday Food is growing nicely and Martha Stewart Living should benefit most from her return.  Q4 publishing revenues declined 21% to $26 million from the previous year.  For 1Q05, the company is forecasting publishing revenues of $28M.  MSO shares have increased 240% in the past twelve months.