Priceline posts higher quarterly profit

Thu Feb 20, 2014 4:58pm EST

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(Reuters) - Priceline.com, the online travel agency known for its name-your-own-price auction, posted a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Thursday as it booked more hotel stays, airline tickets and rental-car reservations.

Darren Huston, the former chief of the Booking.com who became chief executive officer and president of Priceline.com in January, said bookings picked up at the end of the quarter for the start of 2014. He added that advertising for Booking.com was paying off in the United States.

"There was broad-based strength throughout the world but the U.S. in particular was a very healthy market," Huston said in an interview. He said the Priceline brand also performed well, aided by airline ticket sales and rental car reservations.

Fourth-quarter net income came to $378 million, or $7.14 a diluted share, compared with $289 million, or $5.63 a share, a year earlier.

Adjusted for items, profit came to $8.85 a share, compared with $8.29 a share expected by analysts on average, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Gross bookings, or the total dollar value of travel services purchases, came to $9.1 billion, up about 39 percent from the year earlier.

Quarterly revenue rose about 29 percent to $1.54 billion.

(Reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta. Editing by Andre Grenon and Lisa Shumaker)

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