With their stock having gone from $2.50 to almost $18 in eight months, several executives of
have arranged to monetize a portion of their holdings.
The Internet search company said five executives including CEO Skip Battle entered separate agreements to make predetermined sales of up to 1.6 million shares total under an
program known as 10b5-1. About 600,000 shares were already unloaded by Battle, President Steve Berkowitz and Chief Financial Officer Steve Sordello on Monday.
"Battle, Berkowitz and Sordello have informed the company that, after this initial sale of shares for purposes of investment diversification and payment of tax liabilities, their intention is to each retain a significant ownership interest in Ask Jeeves and to sell fewer shares than they have vesting from current grants," the company said in a statement.
AskJeeves has been on a tear in 2003, most recently surging 15% in late July after it posting earnings of $4.4 million and surpassing estimates on a pro forma basis. It tacked on another 10% Monday, rising $1.68 to $17.77, on no news other than it was dropping a "butler" character from its advertising campaign. Yahoo's Web site currently lists the stock's price/earnings ratio at "592.33."
The shares bottomed out about this time last year at 91 cents apiece.
In Tuesday's release, Battle noted the executives will not be allowed to break the law when selling shares.
"At the time of implementation, executive officers and directors of the company cannot be in possession of material non-public information," he said, adding that the plans "will allow executive officers to sell stock, including shares purchased upon the exercise of stock options, in an orderly manner."