* Adjusted EPS of $6.77 compares with estimate of $6.54
* Bookings, revenue seen rising in current quarter
Feb 26 Priceline.com, the online travel
agency known for its name-your-own-price auction, on Tuesday
topped analysts' estimates for quarterly profit, citing improved
hotel and car-rental reservations, and its shares rose more than
3 percent in extended trading.
Gross bookings, or the dollar value of all travel services
purchased, rose 32.9 percent to $6.6 billion in the fourth
quarter. Priceline said it expected those bookings to rise 30
percent to 37 percent in the current first quarter from a year
Priceline, which owes much of its success to international
bookings on its Booking.com European travel site, forecast
profit excluding items of $4.90 to $5.30 a share for the first
quarter on a revenue increase of 17 percent to 24 percent.
Analysts, on average, have forecast profit of $5.14 per share
for the current quarter.
In the fourth quarter, hotel room-night reservations and
booked rental-car days rose about 38 percent and 37 percent,
respectively, compared with a 1.7 percent rise in airline
tickets booked. Priceline said newer markets such as
Asia-Pacific were contributing more to growth.
The quarterly results showed "very strong execution across
international markets and in the domestic U.S. market," said
Morningstar analyst Dan Su. "The foreign currency headwind that
the company experienced in the past several quarters was not
really a major negative impact."
The company, which competes with Expedia Inc and
Orbitz Worldwide, said fourth-quarter net income was
$288.7 million, or $5.63 per share, compared with $225.7
million, or $4.41 per share, a year earlier.
On a non-GAAP basis, profit was $6.77 per share. Analysts,
on average, had expected $6.54 per share, according to Thomson
Quarterly revenue rose 20 percent to $1.19 billion.
Shares of Priceline.com rose 3 percent from their Nasdaq
close of $678.49 after the company announced its financial