MSLO Revenues Fall On Weak Print, Digital Ads

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia saw total revenues fall 10.4% from $37.2 million in the first quarter of 2013 to $33.3 million in the first quarter of 2014, due principally to drops in print and digital advertising, the company announced Tuesday.
MSLO’s total publishing revenues fell 20% from $24.4 million to $19.5 million. That reflects the absence of Whole Living, shuttered by the company in the first quarter of 2013, as well as a supplement issue of Everyday Food and a special issue publication that appeared in the same period of 2013.
Broadcasting revenues fell by around half, to under $1 million, reflecting legacy revenues to the company’s broadcasting business, largely phased out last year. The sole bright spot was merchandising, where total revenues increased 14% from $11.5 million to $13.1 million. This was due mostly to the return of MSLO shares by JCPenney, which announced its intention to end their troubled merchandising partnership in the last quarter of 2013.
CEO Dan Dienst acknowledged the company’s difficulties, stating: “First quarter results reflect the current transition underway at the Company as we start to benefit from the significant changes we made at the end of 2013 to realign our business. We still have work to do but are encouraged by the early results of these decisions.”
Dienst was alluding to a particularly rocky fall and winter, during which MSLO laid off around 100 staffers in December 2013, reducing the company’s headcount by around one-fifth, including a number of top executives and editorial staffers.
In October, amid a high-profile lawsuit brought by Macy’s, JCPenney announced that it would terminate its troubled merchandising partnership with MSLO in 2017 -- four years earlier than previously agreed. JCPenney also returned 11 million shares in MSLO that it purchased as part of the deal, equal to around 17% of the company.
According to the original terms of their deal, MSLO was to create special, branded product lines in kitchenware, bedding and bath products. But in 2012, JCPenney was forced to rebrand the products as “JCP Everyday” after rival retailer Macy’s sued JCP and MSLO, arguing that their deal violated Macy’s previous existing merchandising deal with MSLO.
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