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Martha Stewart's 2nd-quarter loss narrows

NEW YORK (AP) -- Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. reported that its loss narrowed in the second quarter, helped by solid sales of its merchandise and expense-cutting moves over the past 18 months.

Martha Stewart Living has been trying to turn its business around. In November, it announced that it would downsize its magazines and cut publishing jobs to focus on online video and other digital content.

The New York-based company lost $1.2 million, or 2 cents, in the three months ended June 30. That compares with a loss of $2.7 million, or 4 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

"While much remains to be done to drive sustainable performance improvement, we are encouraged with the results this quarter and the steps we have taken across our media and merchandising operations to position the company to drive greater engagement with consumers," Dan Taitz, interim principal executive officer, said in a statement.

Overall revenue fell12 percent to $42.2 million, from $47.9 million in the year-ago period.

In its publishing division, sales fell 16 percent to $24.2 million down from $28.8 million. In broadcasting, revenue dropped 60 percent to $1.9 million, down from $4.6 million. The declines reflected the company's strategic move to end the publication of two print titles —Everyday Food and Whole Living, and exit live television programming. But in merchandising, sales rose 11 percent to $16.1 million, from $14.5 million in the year-ago period.

Separately, Martha Stewart Living is at the center of a legal battle between J.C. Penney Co. and Macy's Inc. over a partnership with the Stewart. Macy's, which has had an exclusive merchandising contract with the home maven since 2006 in such products as bedding and bath items, sued Martha Stewart and Penney after they signed a deal in December 2011 to develop an array of products.

After several weeks of heated testimony this past spring, a New York State Supreme Court judge is expected to hear closing arguments from the lawyers on Thursday and will make his final decision after that.

Shares slipped 2 cents to $2.45. Shares have been trading anywhere from $2.28 to $3.39 per share over the past 52 weeks.