Five years ago stock of Martha Stewart Living Ominmedia traded at around $36 a share and founder Martha Stewart‘s TV shows were all over first-run and syndication. Today shares are trading at $2.40 after the company’s board of directors announced that Daniel Dienst has been named CEO to spearhead the strategy of “renewed growth” at the media company, which has its hands in magazines, books, TV and radio. Former CEO Lisa Gersh said in December she was stepping down after having been in the job only a few months. Dienst is a turnaround guy but not in the media field: He most recently was CEO of Sims Metal Management. He had been on the MSLO board chaired by Stewart and will remain there. Here’s the release:
NEW YORK, Oct. 28, 2013 — Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. (“MSLO”) (NYSE: MSO) and its Board of Directors today announced that Daniel W. Dienst has been named Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Dienst is a highly accomplished CEO who has successfully repositioned and grown publicly-held companies. Mr. Dienst was recently appointed to the MSLO Board of Directors and will continue to serve in that role.
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An SEC filing today says the compensation changes in Martha Stewart‘s contract are consistent with her company’s plan to return to profitability. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia has reduced Stewart’s annual pay to $1.8 million as part of an option in a July 2012 agreement that extended her employment as chairman until 2017, according to the filing reported by Bloomberg. The company has struggled with declining advertising sales at its magazines and lower broadcast revenue following the cancellation of The Martha Stewart Show last year. The company also is seeking a permanent CEO. Martha Stewart Living posted a net loss of $3.27M in the first quarter after losing $56.1M in 2012.
UPDATED: Shares fell as much as 9.7% in early trading after Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia said that Lisa Gersh — who just became CEO of the domestic diva’s media company in July – “plans to step down from that role” as directors begin to search for a successor. The former Oxygen Media exec had been president and chief operating officer at Stewart’s company since 2011 and was expected to beef up its TV programming after Hallmark Channel decided early this year not to renew The Martha Stewart Show. As you might expect, execs say that all’s well. “With the restructuring of the media businesses complete and a strong team leading key financial and corporate functions, the company is on solid footing and positioned for growth,” Gersh says. “There is an exciting future ahead for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and I am committed to working with the board to ensure a smooth transition.” Martha Stewart, who’s founder and non-executive chairman, says that the “media businesses are now repositioned for the future and we are excited about the potential of our digital, mobile, video and print platforms.” But investors aren’t so sure. The company’s shares lost 45% of their value over the last 12 months before this morning’s drop. The publishing business slowed; Stewart’s company said this month that it will close Whole Living, a magazine dedicated to healthy eating. JCPenney, which bought a major stake in the company last year, plans to put Martha Stewart shops in some of its stores in 2013 — but Macy’s says it has an exclusive deal for Stewart’s merchandise and sued for breach of contract.
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EXCLUSIVE: After dipping her toe in the sitcom waters with a guest spot on CBS’ 2 Broke Girls last May, lifestyle mogul Martha Stewart is entering the space in a major way with Tao Of Martha, a single-camera comedy she is executive producing for Fox. The project, from Imagine TV and 20th TV, is based on Jen Lancaster’s upcoming book Tao Of Martha, which is in the vein of Julie And Julia, with domestic diva Stewart as a role model instead of cooking icon Julia Child.
The Tao Of Martha centers on a highly disorganized, scattered former party girl who decides she needs to grow up after her husband leaves her because he can’t handle her chaotic lifestyle anymore. She decides to kill two birds with one stone: become a better role model for her daughter and write a new book about changing her life according to the “teachings” of Martha Stewart. Jake In Progress creator Austin Winsberg will write the script and serve as showrunner. He executive produces with Stewart and Imagine’s Brian Grazer and Francie Calfo. Stweart is not attached to star but may make occasional, mostly voice-over appearances. The Tao of Martha book will be published next fall. Winsberg is repped by CAA, Underground and Warren Dern. Imagine and Stewart are with CAA.
The domestic diva, the loud chef and HSN are being pulled into court together by a German Chamber of Commerce for selling knockoff knives. With the kind of damages the plaintiff is seeking, the suit could end up taking a big cut out of Stewart and the company she founded as well as the Home Shopping Network. Filed yesterday in Florida (read it here), Stewart herself and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, along with Emeril Lagasse and HSNi the company that owns the Home Shopping Network, are accused of trademark infringement in selling knives purporting to be made in Solingen, a region in northern Germany known for making high quality knives, when in fact the cutlery comes from China. Read More »
The Martha Stewart Network launches today on Hulu and Hulu Plus with three shows from her stable: From Martha’s Kitchen, Emeril’s Table and DIY Crafts. There will also be access to Stewart’s seasonal content like Halloween and weddings and additional programs are scheduled to be added through the end of the year. The launch comes a month as Stewart’s new PBS series Martha Stewart’s Cooking School preps for its October 6-7 premiere.
Related: Martha Stewart Extends Deal At MSLO; Lisa Gersh Named CEO
Related: Martha Stewart New MSLO Board Chairman
NEW YORK, July 10, 2012 — Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. (NYSE: MSO) today announced that Martha Stewart has extended her employment agreement with the Company until June 30, 2017. The agreement names Stewart Founder and Chief Creative Officer. Stewart continues to serve as Non-Executive Chairman of the Board.
Lisa Gersh, President and Chief Operating Officer and a member of the Board of Directors since 2011, has been named Chief Executive Officer. Gersh will continue to report to the Board of Directors.
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NEW YORK, May 23, 2012 — Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. (NYSE: MSO) today announced that Martha Stewart, Founder of MSLO, has been elected Non-Executive Chairman of the Board. Ms. Stewart rejoined the Board in September and now succeeds Charles Koppelman as Non-Executive Chairman.
Martha Stewart Returns To MSLO Board
Charles Koppelman Lands A Sweet Exit Package From MSLO
With her daily talk show on Hallmark Channel coming to an end, Martha Stewart has signed on to host a new weekly show for PBS, which will premiere this fall. The 30-minute Martha Stewart’s Cooking School is described as a teaching series inspired by Stewart’s eponymous best-selling book, in which Stewart will demonstrate classic cooking techniques and basics. “This new series combines so many of my passions: teaching and encouraging others,” Stewart said. Stewart’s talk show, which has been cancelled by Hallmark Channel, will air its last original episode in May, with repeats running on the cable channel through the end of the summer.
After five seasons in broadcast syndication and two on cable, Martha Stewart’s daytime show is ending its run, at least for now. Hallmark Channel, where The Martha Stewart Show has been airing since fall 2010, has opted not to renew the program for another season. The current season wraps in May, with the show expected to stay on in repeats throughout the summer. The news, first reported by the New York Post, comes on the heels of Hallmark touting a 18% season-to-season ratings increase for Martha in the women 25-54 demographic. But the program’s ratings were nevertheless underwhelming — an average of 225,000 total viewers and 41,000 women 25-54 for 2011 — especially for a show as expensive as Martha. Martha is part of a Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia daytime programming block on Hallmark that also includes Emeril’s Table, Mad Hungry and Martha Bakes. “The daytime block on Hallmark Channel demonstrated year over year ratings growth and earned The Martha Stewart Show two Daytime Emmy Awards in its first season on Hallmark,” Hallmark and MSLO said in a joint statement. “That show will continue to air through the end of summer 2012. MSLO and Hallmark Channel are in discussions about potential new show formats and concepts for daytime.”
Directors at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia said today that they have elected Martha Stewart to the board. She’s able to join now due to the expiration of a deal that she struck with the SEC in 2006 to settle a case involving securities fraud and obstruction of justice charges. Stewart had agreed not to manage or sit on the board of a publicly traded company for five years. The move had been expected since May, when the company hired Oxygen Media co-founder Lisa Gersh as president and chief operating officer and retained Blackstone Advisory Partners to explore opportunities for the company that some have speculated could include a sale. MSLO has struggled in its TV business and is looking to boost its digital and publishing initiatives.
Will Martha Stewart put her company’s extravagant good-bye gift to Executive Chairman Charles Koppelman in a tasteful gift box with a bow? The former EMI Music chief — who was a fixture on NBC’s The Apprentice: Martha Stewart in 2005 — will leave by year’s end, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia disclosed in an SEC filing today. His departure was moved up a year to open running room for MSLO’s new COO Lisa Gersh, who co-founded and ran Oxygen Media until NBCUniversal bought it in 2007. She’s been reporting to Koppelman but will report directly to the board when he leaves. But he shouldn’t complain: His exit package includes a $1.47M severance payment and up to $35,000 for the attorneys who worked on his new arrangement. The filing says he’ll remain on the MSLO board as “Non-Executive Chairman, Vice Chairman or Special Committee Chairman.” That will entitle him to an initial $50,000 in stock rights as well as rights to 100,000 shares. (Stewart, who was convicted of obstruction of justice in connection with an insider trading investigation in 2004, plans to rejoin the board before October.) Don’t let Koppelman’s sweet deal fool you into thinking that the publishing, TV, and merchandise firm’s doing well: MSLO shares lost about 20% of their value over the last 12 months. Read More »
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia announced today that it has hired Oxygen Media co-founder Lisa Gersh as president and chief operating officer, part of a succession plan in which Gersh is expected to become CEO within 12-20 months. The company also said Martha Stewart will rejoin the board of directors in the third quarter of this year, returning to the post after a five-year SEC ban related to her insider-trading conviction. But the most interesting news might have come farther down the press release, where MSLO said it has retained advisory firm Blackstone Advisory Partners “to review and respond to various parties that have expressed interest in potentially partnering with or investing in the Company, as well as exploring other opportunities.” Although “there is no assurance that the exploration of strategic partnerships and other opportunities will result in a partnership or transaction,” these kind of moves usually signal that a company is exploring all options, including a sale, which has started to get Wall Street types buzzing. Said Stewart: “As the founder and largest stockholder, I fully support this initiative to take our business and iconic brand to the next level.” MLSO is moving to grow in the international and digital spaces after recent declines in its TV and publishing businesses.