Priceline.com (NASDAQ:PCLN) continues to astound me with it’s performance. Since the August lows, it has doubled… after having a stellar 2009 and early 2010. I was a mega bull on this name a long while back but in this case I certainly left the train far too early and left a ton on the table, as the stock has gone so much farther than I anticipated. Despite being a momentum stock with heightened expectations for much of the past year and a half, each of the last 3 quarters the stock has gapped up on earnings which is a rare thing to do, three times in a row.
- Priceline (NASDAQ:PCLN) late Wednesday reported Q4 profit that shattered analyst views, but sales just missed as airline ticket revenue slipped. Still, the name-your-price online travel site guided profit and sales above analyst views for the current quarter.
- The Norwalk, Conn.-based company said it earned $3.40 a share minus special items last quarter, up 71% from the year-ago quarter. That beat by 31 cents the estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. In Q3, Priceline (NASDAQ:PCLN) beat by 36 cents.
- Sales surged 35% to $731 million, but still missed analyst expectations for $734.9 million.
- Gross bookings, the value of all travel services bought by customers, jumped 44.2% to $3.26 billion in Q4, led by a 64.9% surge in international gross travel bookings. Domestic bookings rose 8.5%.
- Hotel room nights booked surged 50.6% worldwide, but airline ticket bookings fell 2.3%.
- Gross margin came in at 65.4%, up from 57.8% a year earlier.
- “This company continues to execute,” said Standard & Poor’s equity analyst Scott Kessler. “Priceline has demonstrated time and again that they are the best operator in (online travel).”
- “Their growth strategy in Europe is working for them better than anyone else in the industry,” said Morningstar analyst Warren Miller.
- For the current quarter, the company sees revenue in a range of $753 million to $782 million, and EPS in a range of $2.34 to $2.44. Analysts have been modeling $742 million in revenue and EPS of $2.30.
- Boyd said he expects “some deceleration” in Priceline’s (NASDAQ:PCLN) international growth “due to the sheer size of the (online) travel business” and hard-to-beat comparisons as the world economy recovers.
- Analysts say Priceline’s risks in 2011 include whatever impact Middle East tensions will have on travel and fuel costs.
This is a guest post written by Trader Mark who runs the blog Fund My Mutual Fund.