Jupitermedia Execs Unload Stock, Angry Shareholders Respond

by , Aug 29, 2004, 12:00 AM
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Jupitermedia executives unloaded about 1.15 million of their company shares Friday, sending the stock price tumbling by as much as 14 percent. Alan Meckler, chairman and CEO, and Christopher Cardell, chief operating officer, of Jupitermedia executed a block trade through Piper Jaffray following the close of trading on Thursday. Nearly half the trade was made up of stock options that were exercised and sold. The stock fell $1.70, or 10.5 percent, to $14.61 on Friday.

"Our stock has been volatile recently," Meckler said in a Reuters report. "I'm presuming that this movement, which represented about 2-1/2 percent of my holdings, has caused the stock to have some gyrations."

Meckler added that he had no immediate plans to leave the company, calling the transaction of shares "modest" compared to the number of total investor-owned shares. "I guess some people don't think I have confidence in the company, which is ridiculous, since I still control 42 percent," he said.

Shareholders posting messages on Jupitermedia's Yahoo! Finance message board had negative reactions to the deal.

"Well Alan, maybe if you'd released a statement last night or this morning before the bell this "shakeout" would have been less severe," one angry post stated, adding: "Now, the momentum looks to be gone and will have to find a new base and repair the damage."

Another post, citing Meckler's statements made to Reuters, said the "CEO specializes in oxymorons."

Meckler had said he made the sale on the advice of his accounting firm. Cardell did not comment.

It's been a volatile summer for tech stocks in general on the Nasdaq. Several companies, including Yahoo! and DoubleClick, reported lower-than-expected second-quarter earnings, while Google's highly anticipated initial public offering was clouded over by several controversies.

However, Jupitermedia beat Wall Street estimates for the second quarter, and expects third- and fourth-quarter earnings that would also surpass street estimates.

Jupitermedia went public in June 1999 during the height of the Internet stock run-up period. On Wednesday the company's stock reached its 52-week high, trading at $16.73. Its 52-week low was on Sept. 2, 2003, when it traded at $3.90.

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