Suggesting that Travelzoo (Nasdaq: TZOO ) is undervalued may seem ludicrous. Shares of the travel-deals publisher have popped fivefold since bottoming out last summer.
Granted, the stock also isn't necessarily a screaming bargain on the bottom line. Travelzoo's trading for 38 times this year's projected profitability and 26 times next year's earnings target.
However, stack up Travelzoo and its $1 billion market cap next to a profitless Groupon's proposed $20 billion price tag, and you get a whole new perspective on relative cheapness.
It's not fair to compare daily-deals darling Groupon with a travel-bargain specialist, but niche watcher Yipit Data recently did anyway. As highlighted in this morning's Deal Journal column, in The Wall Street Journal, Yipit found that the average Groupon deal in New York City snagged 500 buyers. Travelzoo and Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) -backed LivingSocial clocked in at 1,000 and 500 vouchers bought, respectively.
Groupon naturally makes up the difference in volume. The company that once had a waiting list as long as nine months for merchants has gone from offering a single daily deal in cities two years ago to posting several marked-down experiences in narrower metropolitan regions.
But even though Groupon is big, it's not as if its gargantuan mailing list is the marketing advantage that it would like area restaurants, spas, and origami boot camps to believe.
"Based on the Yipit Data Product, which features nearly 20,000 offers per month across major U.S. metros, both Travelzoo and LivingSocial now average more vouchers sold per deal than Groupon in most major North American cities," Yipit wrote in its blog on Friday.
Yipit also points out that OpenTable (Nasdaq: OPEN ) , WagJag, DealFind, and other smaller bargain broadcasters are selling as many vouchers per deal as Groupon in major markets -- if not more.
The rub for Travelzoo is that it hasn't ramped up its abilities to offer daily deals. Yipit finds that the publisher behind the popular "Top 20" travel-deals report offers three to four prepaid vouchers a week in New York City. However, the volume per deal is certainly encouraging for investors in Amazon, Travelzoo, OpenTable, The Knot (Nasdaq: KNOT ) , AOL (NYSE: AOL ) , and any other website that has hopped on the Groupon bandwagon since last year.
It is possible to beat Groupon at its own game.
Most analysts think Groupon's IPO is overvalued. Agree? Disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.