May 9, 2013 / 9:21 PM / 7 years ago

UPDATE 1-Priceline sees Q2 profit below estimates, shares fall

* Investments to pressure operating margin

* Kayak Software purchase to close May 21

May 9 (Reuters) - Online travel agency on Thursday forecast second quarter profit would fall below analysts’ estimates due to global expansion costs and its shares slid 3 percent in after hours trading.

Priceline made the comments after reporting a rise in first quarter profit on improved hotel and car-rental reservations.

Priceline Chief Executive Jeffery Boyd said the second quarter outlook reflects an expected decline in operating margins as the company invests in global growth.

“We’ve got an opportunity to continue to build out the international franchise of our businesses and that requires investment in marketing and in people in a very competitive marketplace,” Boyd said in a telephone interview.

“Most of our growth investors are very encouraging of that strategy to really make sure that we’re not under-investing in the business,” Boyd added.

Net income was $244.3 million, or $4.76 a share, in the first quarter, compared with $181.8 million, or $3.54 a share, a year earlier.

Quarterly revenue rose about 26 percent to $1.3 billion, compared with $1.28 billion expected by analysts.

Gross bookings, or the value of travel services customers bought, rose 36 percent to $9.2 billion in the first quarter.

Priceline forecast earnings of $8.87 to $9.45 a share for the current second quarter. Analysts currently expect $9.58 a share.

Priceline also said that it expects to close its $1.8 billion purchase of smaller rival Kayak Software Corp on May 21.

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