Scripps Hits Market Early

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E.W. Scripps, the Cincinnati media giant that plans to cleave itself into two separate companies, began trading on the New York Stock Exchange last week on a when-issued basis, and early indications are that investors are heavily favoring its cable division.

Scripps first announced in October that it would split into two separate companies — Scripps Networks Interactive (including its cable channels Food Network, HGTV, DIY, Great American Country and Fine Living) and E.W. Scripps (housing its newspaper and television station operations). The transaction should be completed July 1.

In early when-issued trading June 12, Scripps Network (SNIWI) was priced at $42.60 per share, while when-issued shares of E.W. Scripps (SSPWI) were priced at $3.80 each. “Regular” Scripps (SSP) shares were trading at $46.16 each (up 29 cents) in early trading June 12.

Whether the when-issued price of the stocks will determine their ultimate value remains to be seen. Time Warner Cable traded around $40 per share on the when-issued market before it went public on March 1, 2007. The stock is currently trading in the $29-per-share range.

Viacom, which split into two separate companies (CBS and Viacom) in 2006, traded as high as $45 per share when issued, with CBS trading between $25 and $30 per share. Viacom shares now trade in the $33 range while CBS trades in the $20 range.