Playboy Would Consider Sale

NEW YORK More change could be in the air for Playboy Enterprises, which conceded that it was more open to an outright sale of the company or a strategic change in direction for its flagship magazine in the face of challenging financial conditions.

The company made the remarks during a conference call Wednesday to discuss its financial results for Q4 and full-year 2008. Earlier this month, Christie Hefner retired as Playboy’s longtime chairman/CEO, fueling speculation that the company would explore a sale, merger or go private.

Playboy has accelerated cost reductions in recent months, slashing jobs and outsourcing certain functions. The company reported a stiff net loss of $145.7 million for the quarter, reflecting impairment and structuring charges. Its publishing segment reported a $1.2 million loss in Q4 as revenue declined 11 percent on lower ad and circulation revenue at Playboy magazine, and the company said it expected ad revenue to fall 27 percent in the first quarter of ’09.  

On the call, Playboy also defended the board’s decision to pay Hefner $2 million in severance, noting her 30 years with the company.