As Predicted, Ask Jeeves Gets Bought

As predicted on this blog about a month ago, Ask Jeeves (ASKJ) has received a takeover bid from Barry Diller’s InterActiveCorp (IACI). InterActive has been purchasing Internet companies for years, having already gobbled up the likes of Expedia, Travelocity,, Ticketmaster, and Lending Tree. Diller’s company paying about $1.85 billion for ASKJ, a nearly 20 percent premium to the stock’s closing price last Friday.

While some may express concern that InterActive is overpaying, as I talked about in mid-February, one look at ASKJ’s financials shows how they are able to pay such a price and still see the deal as strategically sound. Even at $28 per share, ASKJ is only being valued at 20 times 2005 earnings.

Okay, so that deal is done. If you own ASKJ, well done. If not, are there any other similar opportunities? Well, the other stock I mentioned along with ASKJ last month was InfoSpace (INSP). Shares of this company have actually dropped a bit since I highlighted them, as they now fetch $38 instead of $41 each. InfoSpace is trading at an enterpise value-to-earnings multiple of 16.4x 2005 estimates. Looking at 2006 numbers, that multiple drops to 12.6x!

Interestingly, even though Ask Jeeves is getting all the headlines today, InfoSpace shares are actually cheaper. In fact, they look like a steal to me at $38 each.