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Abrupt end for Martha Stewart CEO

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NEW YORK (AP) - Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia announced that its CEO is stepping down after less than a year on the job.

The company is now setting out to find a replacement for Lisa Gersh, who will leave the company after an unspecified transition period.

Gersh was hired in May 2011 as president and COO and she replaced Charles Koppelman as CEO in July 2012.

The shakeup comes as the company, founded by lifestyle and home guru Martha Stewart, struggles to boost profits at its publishing and broadcast divisions and improve merchandising revenue.

The company said last month that it would downsize its magazines, and cut publishing jobs to focus on online video and other digital content. Martha Stewart will stop putting out its monthly Everyday Food magazine as a stand-alone publication, instead periodically wrapping it into the company's flagship Martha Stewart Living magazine. It will make Everyday Food content available on the company's website, a YouTube channel and through a daily video newsletter.

The company also said it would attempt to sell its Whole Living health and lifestyle magazine.

It struck a deal to open Martha Stewart mini-shops in J.C. Penney stores last year, but that deal has been challenged by Macy's, which has a contract to sell the company's products.

Last month's cuts, combined with a previously announced restructuring of its broadcast TV division, are expected to erase $45 million to $47 million in annual operating costs.

Declining values at its publishing business and a drop in ad revenue drove the company to a wider third-quarter loss. For the period ended Sept. 30, Martha Stewart Living lost $50.9 million, compared with a loss of $9.7 million a year earlier.

The company said that merchandising revenue in the current fourth quarter is expected to be 15 percent higher compared with a year ago.

Shares of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. rose 7 cents, or 2.7 percent, to close at $2.65 Wednesday, after falling to a three-year low earlier in the day.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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