An Unusual Screen: Expedia, On 52-Week Highs….Help on the Way for IAC/Interactive? (EXPE, IACI, OWW, PCLN)

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After running a screen of new highs and lows this morning, a surprise came up on the list: Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) was on today’s list of 52-week highs.  This was a head scratcher when you consider they just blew-up a major share buyback last month and it became one of the first ‘financing’ casualties as the funny-money going around Wall Street was coming to a drastic halt.   In July it said that borrowing costs and lack of attractive financing was making it trim a more than 100 million share buyback announced in June down to 25 million shares.  The company was originally going to eliminate close to half of its outstanding shares, but recent performance is showing that Main Street wants to own this stock rather than having the stock go into the treasury. 

This made me wonder if Wall Street would turn attention to IAC/Interactive (NASDAQ:IACI), the ex-parent of Expedia, whose shares have been battered and tattered  this year.  IAC’s shares are under $28.00 and down from $40.00+ just in February, and this is the ‘other Barry Diller company.’  These businesses are quite different and have entirely different metrics that run the companies.  The companies are under different management teams, but Diller is the Chairman of both.

Perhaps the short interest has some cause and effect here.  There appears to be a large short squeeze that has helped Expedia of late.  Expedia’s short interest grew by 68% from July to August with the shorts having more than 22.7 million shares carried in the short interest there.  As Expedia hist 52-week highs on thin volume, you know that rise is causing some pain to short sellers.  IAC’s short interest is down less than 1% from July to August to 13.45+ million shares.

Orbitz (NYSE:OWW) has been a dismal post-IPO stock, although it is up off of recent lows.  Priceline.com (NASDAQ:PCLN) is also doing quite well for shareholders as its shares are over $80.00 even after a 0.7% drop today, and its 52-week trading range is $30.26 to $82.15.  Maybe investors looking for a repeat will turn attention to IAC/Interactive since it is the other Diller company.  Stranger things have happened before.

Jon C. Ogg
August 27, 2007

Jon Ogg can be reached at jonogg@247wallst.com; he does not own securities in the companies he covers.