UPDATE 2-Orbitz revenue forecast beats estimates as travel bookings rise
(Adds CEO, analyst comment; updates shares)
By Mridhula Raghavan
Aug 7 (Reuters) - Online travel agency Orbitz Worldwide Inc forecast current-quarter revenue above analysts' estimates, helped by a rise in spending on air tickets and hotel bookings in an improving U.S. economy.
The operator of websites such as Orbitz.com and CheapTickets.com also reported a higher revenue for the second quarter as revenue from hotel bookings rose 15 percent.
Hotel bookings accounted for about a third of the company's total revenue in the quarter.
The rise was driven mainly by the company's rewards program, Chief Executive Barney Harford said on a conference call.
Under its rewards program, Orbitz offers discounted hotel bookings if customers also buy air tickets.
Revenue from flight bookings rose 5 percent, while that from vacation packages rose 12 percent.
"It was a good quarter with continued good outlook and they are getting traction with a lot of their loyalty areas," Benchmark Co analyst Dan Kurnos said.
Rival Expedia Inc reported better-than-expected revenue and profit for the second quarter last week as its hotel and flight bookings increased.
Priceline Group Inc, which operates Priceline.com, is due to report results on Monday.
Orbitz said it expected revenue of $249 million-$254 million for the quarter ending September.
Analysts on average were expecting $242.3 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Orbitz's net profit rose to $6.9 million, or 6 cents per share, in the quarter ended June 30 from $561,000, or breakeven on a per-share basis, a year earlier.
The year-earlier quarter included a $18.1 million charge related to refinancing debt.
Revenue rose 10 percent to $248.1 million, beating the average analyst estimate of $245.5 million.
Gross bookings for Orbitz, or the dollar value of all travel services purchased, rose 9 percent to $3.40 billion.
Orbitz's shares were down about 1 percent at $8.97 on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday afternoon.
The stock had risen more than 26 percent this year to Wednesday's close. (Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, Savio D'Souza and Kirti Pandey)