Merger Spec Lifts Scripps

Programmer Soars 8% In Early Trading

Scripps Networks Interactive shares soared as much as 8% in early trading Dec. 11, after a report speculated that Discovery Communications could be contemplating a possible takeover of the Food Network and HGTV parent.

According to a report in Variety citing unnamed sources, Discovery board members discussed making a possible run at Scripps at its regularly scheduled board meeting Dec. 10 There was no indication of whether Discovery would actually make an attempt to acquire Scripps.

Officials at both Discovery and Scripps declined to comment on rumor and speculation.

Scripps is the parent of Food Network, HGTV, The Cooking Channel and the Travel Channel and separated from former parent E.W. Scripps in 2008.  The Scripps family still holds a substantial portion of the stock.

Scripps Networks shares were up as much as 8% ($6.02 per share) in early trading Wednesday to $81.27 each. The stock had slipped slightly in later trading and closed at $81 each, up 7.6%, or $5.75 per share.

Discovery shares closed at $84.53 each, down 1% or 64 cents on Dec. 11.

Both Scripps and Discovery have similar assets – Discovery’s stable of lifestyle and educational channels like Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and TLC could fit well with Food HGTV and Travel. In a research report Wednesday, Sanford Bernstein media analyst Todd Juenger wrote that a deal could benefit Scripps because it would open its channels to international distribution.

Scripps network propositions make sense globally (human beings, wherever they live, are interested in Food, Home, and Travel),” Juenger wrote. “But Scripps can't get distribution, at least not in the basic tier packages, largely because Discovery and Fox and others have blocked them out.”