Priceline.com first-quarter earnings grew 34% as the online-travel agent continued to benefit from strong international bookings growth. However, shares fell 2.9% as the company gave a dim forecast for the current quarter.
Priceline predicted second-quarter adjusted earnings of $8.87 to $9.45 a share on revenue growth of about 15% to 20%. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters recently projected per-share earnings of $9.58 on revenue growth of 72%.
Priceline has recorded profit growth for years, driven by hotel bookings, and especially the expansion of its international bookings business in places like Latin America and Asia. Priceline's heavy reliance on the hotel business has insulated it from a pullback in air travel, which makes up a smaller share of its sales.
The company agreed in November to buy Kayak Software Corp. (KYAK) in a deal valuing the online-travel aggregator at $1.8 billion. The purchase, which is expected to close later this month, should give Priceline a leading source of online-travel advertising and a large base of new site traffic.
For the latest quarter, Priceline posted a profit of $244.3 million, or $4.76 a share, up from $182 million, or $3.54 a share, a year earlier. Excluding a charge of $20.6 million on travel transaction tax rulings in the latest quarter and other items, earnings rose to $5.76 a share from $4.28. Revenue increased 26% to $1.3 billion.
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