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) shares jumped nearly 30% on news that Cheung Kong LTD and Hutchison Whampoa LTD have increased their combined stake to 30% from nearly 20% by purchasing an additional 25 million shares from Priceline.com founder Jay Walker and his trust.
In addition, Goldman Sachs raised its earnings estimates for PCLN. Analyst Anthony Noto says that he is raising his second quarter revenue estimate from $304.8 million to $315 million and his earnings per share estimate from $0.02 to $0.03. He says that favorable industry dynamics increase visibility of first profitable quarter with stable leisure demand and pricing, declining load factors, and thus greater supply for PCLN. He also cites continued progress on its turnaround, and a clear signal of management's confidence given the recent purchase of 50,000 shares (at about $5 per share) by PCLN's CFO Robert Mylod.
"We maintain our view that led to our upgrade of PCLN on May 1st from market perform to market outperform that the worst is behind the company," wrote Noto in a note today. He believes a valuation based solely on travel is appropriate. PCLN trades at 45 times his 2002 EPS estimate of $0.12, compared to a PE of 79 for EXPE and 52 for TVLY. He said he expects its first profitable quarter to drive the stock.