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Martha Stewart Living Shares Fall After Profit, Sales Shrink

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., the company founded by home-decor guru Martha Stewart, fell the most in three months in New York trading after the company posted a decline in fourth-quarter profit and sales.

Net income shrank to $1.11 million, or 2 cents a share, from $4.2 million, or 7 cents, a year earlier, the company said today in a statement. Sales fell 8.6 percent to $56.4 million. Analysts had estimated earnings of 3 cents and revenue of $56.9 million on average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The New York-based company is trying to transform itself into more of a merchandising business, shifting away from its roots in publishing and television. Its broadcasting revenue tumbled 51 percent last quarter, mostly because “The Martha Stewart Show” was canceled in mid-2012. Martha Stewart Living also is seeking a new chief executive officer to replace Lisa Gersh, who announced plans to step down in December.

“MSLO still has much work to do in 2013 as the company positions itself to return to sustained profitability,” Dan Taitz, interim principal executive officer, said in today’s statement.

The shares fell 5.3 percent to $2.71, the biggest one-day decline since Nov. 13. The stock dropped 44 percent last year.

Martha Stewart Living’s comeback plan hinges on selling merchandise through retailers. The company entered an agreement in late 2011 with J.C. Penney Co., though that deal is being contested by Macy’s Inc., which has sold Martha Stewart-branded home goods since 2007. Macy’s, the second-biggest U.S. department-store chain, filed suit in January 2012, saying it had the exclusive right to sell goods in certain categories, including bedding and cookware.

Martha Stewart Living said last year that it would shut down its Whole Living magazine and turn its Everyday Food title into an online publication. The company also is retooling its broadcast division to focus more on Internet services, including AOL Inc. and Hulu LLC, rather than traditional television.

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