Playboy stock rises after sale speculation

Report says men's magazine publisher is in talks with Iconix

CHICAGO -- Shares of Playboy Enterprises soared Thursday on a report that the men's magazine publisher is in talks to sell its business to Iconix Brand Group.

The stock rose by as much as 66% during the day and closed up $1.21, or 43%, at $4.07. Iconix shares fell 39 cents, or 3.2%, to finish at $11.76.

Chicago-based Playboy declined comment. A call to Iconix was not immediately returned.

A news report by Bloomberg citing people close to the situation said Iconix has examined Playboy's finances, but there's no guarantee of a deal.

Iconix, based in New York, owns brands that it licenses to manufacturers, such as Candie's and London Fog.

Iconix CEO Neil Cole has been looking for more brands to acquire, and Playboy has been seeking a buyer since Scott Flanders became CEO in June, replacing longtime head Christie Hefner, the daughter of company founder Hugh Hefner.

In the third quarter, Playboy's ad revenue fell 44% to $9.45 million, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. Circulation declined 9% to 2.5 million in the first six months of the year, the Audit Bureau of Circulations reported.