AP News

Priceline shares jump on 3Q earnings


NORWALK, Conn. (AP) — Profit at travel website operator Priceline.com Inc. grew 27 percent in the third quarter, buoyed by a sharp rise in revenue on increased travel bookings.

The company's adjusted results topped Wall Street forecasts, lifting its shares almost 10 percent in after-hours trading on Thursday.

Priceline reported net income of $596.6 million, or $11.66 per share, for the three months ended Sept. 30. That compares with net income of $469.5 million, or $9.17 per share, in the prior-year period.

Excluding the impact of share-based compensation and other special items, Priceline earned $12.40 per share in the latest quarter.

On that basis, the results exceeded analysts' consensus forecast, which called for earnings of $11.82 per share, according to FactSet.

Priceline's revenue grew 17 percent to $1.71 billion from $1.45 billion a year earlier, as agency and merchant revenue both improved. Analysts were expecting $1.66 billion in revenue.

Priceline runs several travel websites, including Booking.com in Europe and Agoda.com in Asia.

Gross travel bookings for the company — a measure of the total dollar value, including taxes and fees, of all the travel services purchased by customers — jumped 25 percent to $7.8 billion.

Even so, management noted that it remains concerned about economic prospects in Europe, Asia and the U.S, saying it believes that concerns related to the European debt crisis have had a negative impact on the company's results and will likely continue to do so.

For the fourth quarter, Priceline expects adjusted earnings per share will run between $6.12 and $6.57.

It anticipates revenue will rise between 15 percent and 22 percent, which works out to a range of $1.14 billion to $1.21 billion.

Analysts are expecting fourth-quarter earnings of $6.32 per share on an adjusted basis. And revenue of $1.14 billion, according to FactSet.

Priceline shares ended regular trading up $12.22, or 2.2 percent, at $586.10. The stock gained another $56.35 to $642.45 in extended trading.


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