By: Mark Fitzgerald
Shares of E.W. Scripps (NYSE: SSP) soared more than 10% in early trading Wednesday morning after J.P. Morgan upgraded the stock to overweight from neutral.
J.P. Morgan said the $175 million sale of United Media Licensing, which licenses the Peanuts characters, put the company in a position to begin paying dividends by the end of the year — depending on a general improvement in the newspaper business.
J.P. Morgan said the sale lowers debt and improves liquidity for the publisher of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis and newspapers in 13 other markets. The firm moved up its target price for SSP shares to $13 from $10.
At about 11 a.m. EDT, SSP was trading at $11.54, up $1.04, or 9.9%, from the open. Earlier in the session, the stock set a new 52-week high of $11.75.
SSP shares have risen 556% in the past 52 weeks.