Travelzoo CEO Scores

Ralph Bartel cashes in on a 74% run-up.
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(TZOO) - Get Report

Chief Executive Ralph Bartel is cashing in on this year's 74% run-up in the online travel search engine's shares.

Since April 24, Bartel has sold 2.27 million shares of New York-based Travelzoo for a net value of $92.9 million through investment vehicles he controls, according to Ben Silverman, research director of, which tracks insider sales. This is Bartel's biggest share sale since 2004, when he sold 150,000 shares.

Bartel, who also is Travelzoo's founder, chairman and chief financial officer, still holds about 10.5 million shares of the company, which has 16 million shares outstanding. Officials from the company couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

"For a company this closely held by one insider, this is a highly unusual amount of open-market selling," says Silverman.

Travelzoo, which says its media properties reach 10 million people in the U.S. and Canada, reported better-than-expected first quarter results on April 18. The stock was pushed up in part on a short squeeze that took place when investors who borrowed shares expecting the stock price to fall needed to cover their positions.

About 1.2 million of 4.5 million shares that are in the company's float available for trade as of March 1 were held by short sellers, according to Bloomberg data.

By adding to the company's float, Bartel may be helping out the short sellers by increasing the supply of shares available for borrowing, Silverman says.

Travelzoo was a highflying stock, reaching $110 a share in December 2004. This most recent run-up in Travelzoo pushed the stock to $52.99 on April 25. It recently traded at $38.14, down $1.12.

Bartel set up a trust on the Isle of Man for personal financial planning purposes last year. Located in the Irish Sea, the Isle of Man is considered to be a tax haven.