Shares of Internet network iVillage, an online women's media company, rose as much as 11.5 percent on Wednesday on talk it was exploring a sale, analysts said.
The Financial Times reported on Wednesday that iVillage had hired investment bankers at JPMorgan Chase & Co. to explore a sale for as much as $700 million, based on a market capitalization of about $540 million.
Officials at Village and JPMorgan would not comment on the report.
But analysts said a potential sale of iVillage was a credible option given recent purchases of online community sites by major media conglomerates, including News Corp and Viacom Inc..
"They have the No. 1 women's Web site and a lot of new advertisers," said Kit Spring, analyst with Stifel, Nicolaus, who raised his price target on the share to $8.75 on the report. "You're seeing a lot of advertisers who were historically on Oprah or in Cosmopolitan (magazine) go there."
Spring said his "market outperform" rating on the share had been partly based on idea the company was a potential takeover target, adding that top Internet companies like Yahoo Inc. or Time Warner Inc. America Online unit could be suitors.
iVillage shares rose to $8.42, the highest since April 2004, before trading up 15 cents at $7.70 on Nasdaq on Wednesday afternoon.