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Expedia lower on conservative outlook; Priceline near breakeven

  • Though Expedia (EXPE -2.7%) beat Q1 estimates on the back of solid bookings growth, the company reiterated guidance for 13-16% full-year adjusted EBITDA growth on its CC (transcript), while adding "the vast majority" of the growth will happen in 2H14.
  • Moreover, when asked by Deutsche's Ross Sandler whether hotel room night growth (24% Y/Y in Q1 and 25% in Q4) could accelerate to 30%+ in Q2 given an "easy comp" for Hotwire (the business struggled in Q2 last year) and a shift in Easter's timing from Q1 to Q2, CFO Mark Okerstrom chose to punt. "Well, I would say that Hotwire is actually a headwind for us until Q3 ... we don't expect that Q2 is a particularly easy comp for us on the bottom line."
  • Priceline (PCLN -0.1%), which is near breakeven in spite of Expedia's decline, has been providing tough competition for Hotwire in the opaque travel bookings space. Its Q1 report arrives on May 8.
  • Expedia's gross bookings rose 29% Y/Y in Q1 to $12.6B, an improvement from Q4's 21% clip and Q3's 15%. U.S. bookings rose 35% to $7.43B, and international bookings 21% to $5.2B. Room nights +24% with a 10% drop in revenue/night, air tickets sold +30% with a 1% increase in airfare.
  • Heavy online ad spend led sales/marketing expenses to grow 26% to $624.7M (52% of revenue). The Travelocity deal boosted room night growth by 3%, and air ticket growth by 18%.

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