Is Martha Stewart immortal? This is the question posed by one of the more interesting stock offerings to come along in quite a while: a $100 million stake in the dame of domesticity herself, courtesy of an initial-public-offering syndicate led by Morgan Stanley Dean Witter. The matter of Stewart's immortality is relevant in this regard because, if she is immortal -- indeed, even if we may assume she's got but another 30 years in her as America's leading celebrant of content-free living -- then everyone reading these words would be well advised to drop everything and rush to his or her stockbroker, buy orders at the ready. That is because, if the aforementioned registration statement is even halfway correct, Stewart is the greatest moneymaking machine since I don't know what. There's just no way around it, folks, this lady is a moneymaking fool. The problem presented by the offering -- and the only significant one at that -- is what would happen to the company and its stock if, let us say, Stewart were to be run over by a truck? Or what if this more likely scenario were to occur: Martha accidentally hangs herself while demonstrating 10,000 new and interesting ways to make festive dining-room-table centerpieces out of pine cones and discarded garden hose. Short of that, this offering is the deal of all time and the only IPO I can remember since I don't know when in which the company is almost literally drowning in profits. As far as I am concerned, this offering changes everything about Stewart. No more jokes about the Queen of White-Bread Living. No more cheap shots about 44 new ways to wash and polish a spatula. (Honest, I'm going to try.) The lady deserves better -- a lot better. She just might be the smartest, most clever woman in American business today.
|Accepting the 1999 National Magazine Award in photography for her magazine, Martha Stewart Living.|
|Photo: AP/Richard Drew|