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Martha's Company Says She's Staying

09/05/2002 AT 11:00 AM EDT

It looks like Martha Stewart can keep her day job.

On Wednesday, her the domestic diva's company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., denied to Reuters a New York Times report that it was seeking a replacement for its namesake CEO, who has been embroiled in an alleged insider-trading scandal that's kept her name in the headlines and played havoc with the company's stock price.

(Martha Stewart shares were off 3 cents at $7.62 on the New York Stock Exchange in afternoon trading Wednesday.)

Martha Stewart Living said in the statement that its board "felt it appropriate to categorically deny the report contained in (Tuesday's) New York Times ... that any search for a new chief executive officer has been initiated."

The board "actively monitors the business needs of the company on an ongoing basis as well in relation to the investigations involving Martha Stewart personally," the company said.

Stewart is feeling the heat from her sale last December of nearly 4,000 shares of ImClone stock, one day before the biotech company disclosed that the FDA had not approved its experimental cancer drug. News of the FDA decision sent ImClone's shares plummeting.

Conventional wisdom, reported widely throughout the business community, is that the board of Martha Stewart Living would be foolish not to be at least discussing the possibility of finding a replacement CEO -- if only because Stewart, 61, is approaching retirement age.

"The company has gone out of its way on recent conference calls to highlight some assets in the organizations besides Martha that had been behind the scenes in the past," Laura Richardson, an analyst at Adams, Harkness & Hill, tells Reuters.

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