On the brink: Playboy seeks a suitor

Playboy Enterprises Inc. (PLA) is every adolescent boy's fantasy -- and every shareholder's nightmare. Shares of Hugh Hefner's media empire have plunged more than 66% over the past three years, as revenue from the company's flagship magazine plunged faster than its other properties, including digital media, could make up for it. Even the 2006 purchase of a multimedia empire founded by Jenna Jameson -- arguably the best-known porn star ever -- did not do much good.

Little wonder that the Chicago-based media company is being shopped around. Eccentric British billionaire Richard Branson was the latest rumored potential sugar daddy for Playboy Enterprises, according to a report in Britain's Daily Mail. Branson, who may have planted the story to begin with, later issued a statement denying any interest in Playboy. (This is the same guy recently photographed kite-surfing with a naked model on his back, so the confusion is understandable.)