Several blogs picked up on the news that Citigroup has initiated coverage of Marvel stock at “Buy” and the news sent Marvel stock up pertly yesterday and then down just as pertly today. Overall, Marvel stock has been on the rise since mid-summer, which is a bit ironic given the number of top execs who have left, but the street, like Citigroup, knows that the one two punch of SPIDER-MAN 3 and FF 2 next year will keep the company looking like a good investment:

“While much of the value relates to long-term franchise potential, we think shares will rise sooner, ahead of the spring and summer 2007 Spider-Man and Fantastic Four sequel releases,” she Osur wrote in a note to clients Monday.

Osur said Marvel’s licensing division could pull in big numbers, possibly contributing more than 50 percent of the total corporate gross profit in 2006. That number could rise next year with the release of “Spider-Man 3.”

A new toy contract with Hasbro Inc. is also “likely to improve Marvel’s brand reach while eliminating inventory risk,” she added.

In January, Hasbro signed a five-year licensing deal to make toys based on Marvel’s comic-book characters such as The Hulk, the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man. Marvel is also poised to benefit from the reliability of its publishing unit and may see gains from taking film production in-house.

All the attention Marvel is paying to the bookstore market with recognizable authors penning books is also of note to the larger bottom-line. We’re not business savvy enough to know how all this affects the eternal rumors of Marvel being for sale, but it seems many people are bullish on the company right now.