Capital Markets

Martha Stewart’s 97-Point Mistake

The home diva's media company corrects erroneous report of sales growth for a product line.
Stephen Taub and David McCannSeptember 28, 2007

It’s not as bad as going to jail for illegal insider trading, or even having to pay your shareholders $30 million to settle a lawsuit claiming they were duped. But as sales-reporting errors go, this one’s a whopper.

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia had reported 125 percent sales growth for its “soft home” products at Kmart stores for the one-week period following the products’ relaunch, compared with the same week in 2006. On Thursday the company filed a corrected figure — which was a mere 97 percentage points lower.

The company said it had meant to state that same-store sales for the products were up 28 percent for that week. Fashion bedding, a segment of the soft home products line, was up 124 percent.

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At least 124 is almost 125.

It was just another day in the life of Martha Stewart, who in May agreed to contribute $5 million of her personal funds as part of a $30 million payment to shareholders who filed a class-action suit against Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. The lawsuit charged that Martha Stewart, the company, and other company executives misled shareholders about risks to the company and brand as a result of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s 2001 investigation into her sale of ImClone Systems stock.

Stewart was convicted in March 2004 of lying about her ImClone stock sales. She served five months in prison and five months in home detention.