Martha Stewart Living stock leaps to 2-yr highs

Thu Sep 23, 2004

NEW YORK, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc.'s (MSO.N: Quote, Profile, Research) stock soared more than 18 percent to its highest level in more than two years on Thursday, a day after the company said reality TV producer Mark Burnett would help develop a new prime-time TV series featuring Stewart.

Shares climbed to their highest levels since June 2002, just before reports of Stewart's personal trades in biotech company ImClone Systems Inc. (IMCL.O: Quote, Profile, Research) stock first surfaced.

Stewart was convicted in March of lying to investigators about her sale of ImClone shares and is expected to begin serving a five-month prison sentence next month.

News of the TV project is creating optimism among investors about the vitality of Stewart's brand name, which has been damaged following her criminal conviction, said William Mack, a Standard & Poor's stock analyst who tracks the media and merchandising company.

"It could have carry-over effects because it benefits her image and brand," he said of the TV deal with Burnett, creator of the popular TV shows "Survivor" and "The Apprentice."

Omnimedia shares have jumped more than 50 percent since Stewart announced last week that she wanted to begin serving her prison term as soon as possible instead of waiting for an appeal of her conviction to be heard.

Omnimedia shares climbed as high as $17.75, before trading up $2.47, or 16.49 percent, $17.45 shortly before midday on the New York Stock Exchange.



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