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HomemarketsScripps surges 16% on deal talk for the Food Network, HGTV operator

Scripps surges 16% on deal talk for the Food Network, HGTV operator

  • Scripps Network Interactive has reportedly held merger talks with Discovery Communications and Viacom.
  • Analysts split on the benefits of a deal, which would pair lifestyle channels with Animal Planet and TLC.

John Colaneri, Anthony Carrino, Sunny Anderson, Kenneth W. Lowe, Katie Lee, Andrew Zimmern and guests of Scripps Networks Interactive ring the NASDAQ Opening Bell at NASDAQ on June 2, 2016 in New York City.Slaven Vlasic | Getty Images

Shares of Scripps Network Interactive jumped 16 percent as both Discovery Communications and Viacom have reportedly expressed interest in acquiring the lifestyle broadcast company.

Interest from Discovery revives a potential deal the two companies scrapped in 2014, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. And Reuters reported that Viacom also recently held talks to buy Scripps.

Discovery shares rose 3 percent, and Viacom shares rose 1 percent.

Wall Street remains skeptical of what a merger between Discovery and Scripps would achieve. Analysts said they are doubtful that a deal, which would create a $19 billion cable network, would solve either company's ongoing dilemmas.

"We don't think any of the current existential problems plaguing both companies and the sector in general would be addressed," Cowen Group analyst Doug Creutz wrote in a note.

Scripps is home to HGTV and Food Network, among others. Its stock market value is $9.9 billion, according to FactSet, while Discovery's market value is around $10 billion. Discovery focuses on its namesake channel and also has TLC and Animal Planet, among others.

Beyond fundamental flaws, Creutz says the merger's appeal of gaining international exposure isn't as beneficial for Discovery shareholders as it may seem.

"The attraction of having significant exposure outside of the U.S. would be diluted," Creutz said.

The deal could come with some mutual benefits, according to Jefferies analyst John Janedis.

"The combo would be a clear leader in the female demo," Janedis wrote in a note.

Yet Janedis maintains his skepticism that any comparative advantage gained is outweighed by the broadcast industry's continuing issues.

"The move would appear to be more defensive given history," Janedis said.

CNBC's Jim Cramer says a lack of appeal for the millennial demographic means a merger would not bear much fruit.

"I'm not necessarily interested in [HGTV], neither are millennials. They don't own homes. They rent," Cramer said on "Squawk on the Street."

@CarlQuintanilla tweet.

Discovery and Scripps stocks are the second- and third-best performers of the S&P 500 group in midday trading Wednesday, outstripped only by Vertex Pharmaceuticals.

Terms of a potential deal, from either Discovery or Viacom, could not be learned, the WSJ and Reuters reported.


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