Living Omnimedia posts improved Q4 financial

TV revenue could strengthen further over time

NEW YORK -- Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia posted improved fourth-quarter financials on Wednesday, with management saying TV did better in the period and could strengthen further over time.

Broadcasting "can be an engine for profits," said executive chairman Charles Koppelman on a conference call.

A recent deal to get the day-time Martha Stewart show and other MSLO programming on the Hallmark Channel will allow Stewart to reach viewers and advertisers via a fixed time slot and reruns, build up more talent and showcase the company's merchandise, Koppelman told analysts on the call.

However, first-quarter TV advertising revenue will be down, management said due to the "Martha Stewart Show" and certain timing issues.

Fourth-quarter revenue rose 20% to $87.6 million -- the first gain since the second quarter of 2008.

Broadcasting revenue increased from $11.1 million in the year-ago period to $14.3 million in the fourth quarter driven by higher product integration revenue at the "Martha Stewart Show." It was the first broadcasting growth period since the third quarter of 2008.

MSLO swung to a fourth-quarter profit of $20.8 million, compared with a year-ago loss of $8.0 million.

Operating income for the fourth quarter of $21.3 million also meant a swing from a year-ago operating loss of $4.5 million.

The latest quarter included various special items, such as an impairment charge adjustment of $1.2 million in the merchandising segment and the recognition of $10 million of previously deferred Kmart royalties. The fourth quarter of 2008 included a $9.3 million impairment charge in its publishing unit.

MSLO's full-year 2009 loss amounted to $14.6 million, compared with a year-ago loss of $15.7 million. Revenue fell from $284.3 million to $244.7 million.

Asked about opportunities for MSLO on the new Apple iPad, management said it plans to keep pushing content out on new digital platforms, but didn't provide specifics.