Shares of CIT Group Inc. jumped more than 5% Monday after an analyst said the New York lender might sell itself.

"We believe CIT's board will ultimately be forced to act in the best interest of shareholders and entertain offers to sell CIT," Meredith Whitney of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce's CIBC World Markets Inc. wrote in a research report. CIT could fetch more than $50 a share, Ms. Whitney wrote.

CIT's shares closed at $35.86 Monday.

"CIT has traditionally been a defensive company, but over the past three years, its growth has come from riskier 'offensive" businesses,' " Ms. Whitney wrote. "Over the past month, the world has changed, and so has CIT's earnings outlook. At a minimum, we believe growth will be very challenging near term."

In July CIT reported a $134.5 million loss for the second quarter, compared with a $236 million profit a year earlier, and said it would exit the home lending business.

On Monday, at a conference in Kohler, Wis., sponsored by KBW Inc., CIT chief financial officer Joseph M. Leone did not discuss Ms. Whitney's note but said the recent rupture in the credit market would be good for his company.

Calls to CIT were not returned by press time.

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