800 Travel Systems
, which has been limping since its mid-January IPO, has roared back to life in the last two weeks, carried by the wave of Internet mania that's currently lifting several stocks.
The Tampa-based travel agency, which makes airline ticket reservations over an 800-number and the Internet, fell prey to a hedge tactic called warrant stripping shortly after its IPO. (
examined 800 Travel's problems in a previous Whistleblower
The stock of the company hit a new low of 1 1/16 last month, almost 80% below its $5 IPO price, as investors dumped the stock and kept the warrants.
The stock has rebounded incredibly. On Friday, the company's stock notched a 27% gain to reach 7 1/16 per share on volume of about 10 times the average level. Earlier in the week, it was even stronger, hitting a historic high of 10 in intraday trading. That comes out to about a 950% climb in just about 30 days. Not a bad ride.
"We should have been trading at a certain level since the IPO, but you can't control what others are doing, whether its shorting or something else," said Jerrold Sendrow, the company's chief financial officer.
In even better shape are the warrant holders, who have the right to purchase one share of 800 Travel at $6.25 for each warrant they hold. The trading price of the warrants, sold along with the stock in the IPO, climbed about 50% today to almost $2, up 62.5 cents on volume of more than one million warrants traded. The company sold 2.7 million warrants at 12.5 cents each in the IPO.
Investors' recent mania for buying Internet stocks, which lifted key players like
over the past several days before waning today, is not the only factor powering 800 Travel.
Its own strong financials and recent positive announcements also are boosting the company, Sendrow explained. Yesterday, the company named George Warde its chairman. Warde previously ran
Late last month, the company announced record revenue for the year and positive cash flow -- two items still missing from the balance sheet of many larger Internet-based public companies. 800 Travel reported a 164% increase in revenues to $8.3 million last year, compared to $3.2 million in 1996.
However, much of that increase is due to the acquisition of the
Joseph Stevens Group
, a San Diego reservation center.
The company also said operations generated more than $1 million last year, compared to a loss of $1 million in 1996. However, trailing 12-month earnings per share continue to be negative.
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