Who but Martha Stewart could face a room full of Wall Street analysts and describe her company as "vivacious"? But don't be fooled by Stewart's warm and fuzzy approach to numbers. The doyenne of all things domestic had plenty of good news to share at the recent meeting outlining the accomplishments of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO). Revenues were expected to climb 20% in 2000. And while other media companies' shares fell an average of 20% for the year, Martha Stewart stock was holding steady.
Stewart, founder and CEO, has a simple sense of mission for her company. "We are the leading authority for the home," she says. But that can be a pretty broad mandate. More than a year after going public, her company is expanding its reach well beyond the garden and kitchen. Her recent holiday TV special featured singer Tony Bennett. Back in August, Stewart, 59, traveled to Alaska's Yukon, strapped on a pair of crampons, and with cameras rolling went ice climbing. She also went dog sledding with a top musher. Of course, being Martha, she took time out to make sourdough waffles, using a recipe dating from Alaska's Gold Rush. Footage of the trip aired on her daily TV show.
What investors particularly like is Stewart's ability to get the most out of her content. Just as she would never let a scrap of cookie dough go to waste, Stewart has learned to stretch information over several media. Material from a special Halloween issue of her magazine reappeared on her TV show, Web site, and syndicated newspaper column. "That strategy allows her not to be dependent on one medium," says Merrill Lynch & Co. analyst Karl Choi. "It should be a model for other companies."
Meanwhile, Stewart is continuing to develop more magazine and TV specials. She shows no signs of slowing as she cooks, plants, and mushes her way to media moguldom.