The adult entertainment world is a hopping place these days. Playboy Enterprises (NYSE:PLA) alone has been the subject of a host of recent news headlines.

For starters, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner recently expressed interest in getting pop star Britney Spears to appear in his magazine -- and be his girlfriend, to boot. (Of course, he's 77 years old, so perhaps the 22-year-old will be able to resist the temptation.)

In more serious news, a ruling was issued yesterday permitting Playboy to proceed in a lawsuit against Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) AOL Web browser unit, Netscape. The case could have possible implications for other companies, especially online search engines and advertisers.

Playboy is taking issue with the way Netscape ran its search engine, whereby if you typed in words such as "playboy" or "playmate," you were pointed to advertisements for Playboy competitors, which used fonts and images similar to those of Playboy, causing confusion. Playboy asserts that, among other things, these rivals' sites were "inferior" to Playboy, and that the Playboy brand therefore suffered "tarnishment" [sic].

This practice of serving up paid advertisements to searchers based on the words they search for is called "keying," and this case may end up helping define how far keying can go.

Finally, a few more news tidbits related to Playboy:

  • Playboy raised more than $2.7 million by auctioning off memorabilia from its long history.
  • Playboy also lured a top executive, Jim Griffiths, from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (NYSE:MGM). Griffiths will be charged with helping Playboy expand globally, among other things.
  • The company is launching a website in Brazil.

The upshot for this firm is that it appears to be turning itself around, after some lackluster years. The share price is up about 40% over the past 12 months, and management expects 2004 to be a good year for the bunny. The company expects a return to earnings-per-share profitability for 2004, and an increase in operating income to $30 million -- marking a 20% increase over anticipated 2003 figures. Sounds like more celebrations at the Playboy mansion are in store.

You can learn more about Playboy (you're just interested in the articles, right?) in this interview with CEO Christie Hefner on the occasion of Playboy's 50th anniversary, and in these articles by LouAnn Lofton: Playboy Shakes Its Stuff and Playboy's Shrinking Loss.

Drop by our Playboy discussion board for a quick dip or to hang out poolside. And if Playboy isn't your cup of investment tea and you're looking for some promising stocks, check out our suite of stock newsletters or our research report on promising stocks for 2004.