Percentage growth has to slow over the long run due solely to math, but Booking Holdings has worked as hard as it can to keep up its growth rates even as it continues to seek a bigger piece of the travel industry market.
Booking's third-quarter results weren't entirely satisfactory, and they definitely reflected the long-term trends that have worked against the company. Revenue came in at $4.85 billion, and although that was better than the $4.81 billion that most of those following the stock were expecting to see, it was still up just 8% from year-ago levels.
Booking's fundamental growth rates were uniformly solid but less impressive than they've been in past quarters. Gross travel bookings were up 12% to $24.3 billion, slowing from their 15% growth rate in the second quarter of 2018. A rise of 66% in merchant bookings helped send merchant revenue higher by more than half, and advertising revenue also rose 14% to give a more modest boost to the company. Yet agency revenue rose just 0.5% on a 2% rise in agency bookings, slowing further from previous quarters.
Booking's growth of 13% y/y outpaced Expedia by two points. Both companies are roughly equal in size
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Read also "Booking sold more than 200 million room nights in Q3" and "Booking.com makes major pivot toward merchant hotel bookings"