Despite the economic pressure on Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia’s overall business in Q4, its digital offerings had a good year, thanks to investments in its wedding content and planning tool Pingg, said Charles Koppelman, the company’s executive chairman, who led the earnings call. After co-CEO Robin Marino listed a number of merchandising deals designed to offset the loss of the KMart retail relationship, co-CEO Wenda Harris Millard was able to detail some rare good news: the company’s total 2008 online revs grew 23 percent, even as she noted this is the worst ad environment “we have ever seen.” And so, as total ad revenue was down 8 percent, along with falling ad pages, Millard said that company will hold steady to its magazine ad rates. “Looking ahead to the rest of 2009, year-over-year comparisons will be difficult to maintain, but with pageviews and other metrics continuing to grow, we will be able to manage the challenges,” Millard said.
— Q1 internet revs flat: Given the cloudy outlook, MSLO interim CFO Allison Jacques said the company won’t offer guidance for Q1. She did offer a look at various segments and the results look mixed at best. Broadcasting is stable versus other years, though publishing could be down 30 percent,. Internet ad revenue is expected to be flat, though Jacques noted that past quarters include benefits from the Flowers.com business, which was moved to the merchandising segment.
More, starting with the Q&A, after the jump.
— No word on a new CFO.
— Asked whether it still makes sense for MSLO to remain a public company in this environment, Koppelman said that there are no plans to change the company’s status, but, nothing is off the table completely. “We’re constantly looking at all options to improve this business.”