Priceline.com Earnings Call Nuggets: Market Share Opportunities and Booking.com Campaign

Priceline.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:PCLN) recently reported its second quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.

Market Share Opportunities

Ross Sandler – Deutsche Bank: Just two quick questions. So, we’ve seen, Dan, as you mentioned, we’ve seen a lot of change in some of your core customer acquisition channel, so Google Hotel Finder doing better, Trip Advisor doing better. Do you guys view these kind of change in dynamics as an opportunity for Priceline to take market share versus OTAs and Supplier Direct. And then with the concept of changing dynamics in mind, how do you view your opportunity to gain market share in mobile versus maybe some of the smaller OTAs and Supplier Direct?

Jeffery H. Boyd – Chairman, President and CEO: With respect the first channel, whenever you have changing interfaces and important advertising channels represents both the risk and an opportunity. We have done particularly well in the legacy environments and so I think we have risk win, the interface has changed. But I think our teams done a good job in executing against those changes and trying to build the processes and the understanding to do well in those marketplaces as they change. The fundamental asset that we have is a great website that converts customers very well and that is an asset that has high value in all of these interfaces, whether it’s meta-search or pop-ups we tend to do well, once we get a visit into the website and that continues to be very important part of how we try to improve our product and help build share in these markets. So, we look at both as a risk and as an opportunity and I think it’s given in our space and that these markets will continue to change that the media model businesses will continue to try to optimize for their customer flows and for revenue, and all of us just have to be prepared to deal with those changes. With respect to mobile, I think the teams have also done very good job of building terrific mobile websites, building functionality in our regular websites that work well, in a tablet environment, and building mobile apps. If you look at the number of downloads that we have as a group, it’s in the tens of millions. And I think we’re doing good job in building apps that consumers want to download. Our focus is really to try to build downloads that consumers will actually use those apps to buy products because they tend to be quite loyal, and I think we’re doing well there based on the disclosures that have come out from competitors in the space. We’re comfortable that we’re tracking nicely in terms of mobile share.

Booking.com Campaign

Naved Khan – Cantor Fitzgerald: Jeff, can you talk a little bit about your – the efficacy of your TV ad campaign in the U.S. and how much did it contributed to your performance versus your own expectations in the quarter? And how do you see it tracking going into the second half? Then I have a follow-up?

Jeffery H. Boyd – Chairman, President and CEO: So, I assume you are asking about the Booking.com campaign here in the United States because keep in mind now we have three brands that are advertising Priceline, Booking, and KAYAK. As I mentioned in my prepared remarks, we’re happy with the results we’ve seen to date and we think that the ad campaign in contributing to the growth that Booking.com is seeing here in the United States. So, it’s an ongoing experiment and we continue to monitor the results, but we’re pleased with what we see so far. Then you had a follow-up?

Naved Khan – Cantor Fitzgerald: Yes. I do actually. So just I think going back to your comments on your earnings call for the last quarter, I think you had talked about seeing some comps in the second half for advertising just because you start to anniversary some of the spending that you had in the last year. So are you still comfortable with that or how would you want to revisit that and give us an update on how you look at that?

Jeffery H. Boyd – Chairman, President and CEO: I think the best update we have is the guidance that Dan gave you for overall pressure on operating margins which is going from 410 basis points in the second quarter to our guidance for approximately 250 basis points in the third quarter. The components of that pressure while lower than in the second quarter continue to be pressure on ROIs. As I have said in previous calls we first and foremost want to make sure that we’re adequately investing in distribution and building the franchise and while we haven’t changed the fundamental way that we do that or the disciplines that we apply to that process, we want to make sure that we are adequately supporting the business. So whether it’s offline or online if we think there is an opportunity to – an attractive opportunity to spend money to build the business we will do so.

A Closer Look: Priceline.com Earnings Cheat Sheet>>