Feb. 18, 2015, 5:30 PM| Feb. 18, 2015, 5:30 PM | 7 Comments
Feb. 12, 2015, 9:29 AM
- Priceline (NASDAQ:PCLN) is up premarket to $1,083.00 after Expedia announced it's buying Orbitz for $1.6B, thereby further consolidating the online travel market (especially in the U.S., where Orbitz gets nearly 3/4 of its sales). The agreement follows a January deal by Expedia to acquire Travelocity, which was already relying on Expedia's inventory.
- Also possibly helping Priceline: TripAdvisor, which acts as a major referral traffic source for Priceline and Expedia, is soaring after beating Q4 revenue estimates (while missing on EPS) and offering above-consensus 2015 sales guidance.
- Priceline's own Q4 results are due in 7 days. Shares have risen 9% from a Jan. 16 low of $990.69.
Feb. 10, 2015, 10:11 AM
- Strong earnings reports from Starwood Hotels & Resorts (HOT +6.4%) and Wyndham Worldwide (WYN +7.1%) have given a boost to the lodging sector.
- The group is showing improved efficiency as demand and pricing stays ahead of the rate of capacity growth.
- Gainers: Hyatt Hotels (NYSE:H) +3.8%, Marriott International (NASDAQ:MAR) +3.6%, Intercontinental Hotels (NYSE:IHG) +2.7%, Choice Hotels International (NYSE:CHH) +2.1%, Hilton Worldwide (NYSE:HLT) +1.4%, Extended Stay America (NYSE:STAY) +1.2%, Morgans Hotel Group (NASDAQ:MHGC) +1.2%.
- Associated with the sector, Priceline (PCLN +1.8%) and Orbitz Worldwide (OWW +3.1%) are also trading above market averages.
Feb. 10, 2015, 3:20 AM
- IBM (NYSE:IBM) is suing Priceline (NASDAQ:PCLN), accusing it of infringing on four patents and claiming billions of dollars in royalties.
- "Priceline has refused to engage in any meaningful discussion on the merits, resorting instead to delay and non-responsive answers," IBM said in its complaint.
- The patents cover methods of tracking prior conversations with a user, Internet transmissions and advertising, and one that improves on a single sign-on.
- PCLN -0.8% AH
Feb. 6, 2015, 9:31 AM
- "We are expecting a deceleration in revenue growth in 2015 on headwinds from Travelocity implementation, further impact from the reduction of our hotel margins, the negative impact of foreign currency and the continued success of our loyalty programs," stated Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) CFO Mark Okerstrom on the Q4 CC (transcript). The revenue boost from the Wotif acquisition will partly offset.
- Okerstrom added Expedia isn't "expecting any meaningful adjusted EBITDA growth in the first quarter and expect the bulk of our adjusted EBITDA dollar growth to come in the back half of the year." Excluding the 65%-owned Chinese eLong (LONG -4.8%) unit, which is expected to see losses grow amid tough competition from Ctrip/Qunar, adjusted EBITDA growth is expected to be in the 10%-15% range, with forex having a 5% impact.
- Expedia's Q4 gross bookings rose 24% Y/Y to $11.3B, but revenue rose a more modest 19% and adjusted EBITDA (exc. eLong) 13%. A 10% Y/Y drop in revenue/hotel room night and 6% drop in revenue/air ticket (both hurt by forex) pressured the top line, and a 29% increase in sales/marketing spend (thanks to Google and TV ad spend) pressured the bottom line.
- Some positives: Hotel room night still rose 28%, and air tickets sold 30%. U.S. bookings grew 29%, and international 18% (forex again).
- Priceline (NASDAQ:PCLN), which has heavier international exposure than Expedia, is also lower. Its Q4 report arrives on Feb. 19.
- Expedia's Q4 results, PR (.pdf)
Jan. 30, 2015, 5:42 PM
- Priceline's (NASDAQ:PCLN) Q4 report will arrive at 7AM ET on Thursday, Feb. 19. CC at 7:30AM.
- Consensus is for revenue of $1.8B (+16.6% Y/Y) and EPS of $10.07 (+14%). With forex concerns looming large, shares have fallen 16% since the online travel giant provided light Q4 guidance to go with a Q3 EPS beat on Nov. 4.
Jan. 15, 2015, 6:00 PM
- Thanks to today's 3.6% drop, Priceline (NASDAQ:PCLN) closed below $1,000 for the first time since Oct. 2013. Shares are now down 28% from a 52-week high of $1,378.96.
- In addition to the Nasdaq's 1.5% drop, fresh losses for the euro (following Switzerland's abandoning of its efforts to halt the franc's rise against the euro) might have hurt Priceline's cause today. With Priceline receiving 88% of its bookings from international markets (much of it from Europe, via Booking.com), forex has been worrying the Street for some time.
- In other news, Booking.com has rolled out a new app (called Booking Now) aimed at travelers looking to make quick/spontaneous decisions. After users provide a set of preferences, the app delivers a personalized list of hotels that can be booked with a few taps. It takes aim at fast-growing HotelTonight.
Jan. 8, 2015, 9:59 AM
- Believing "the best days for shares may be behind it," Stifel's Scott Devitt has downgraded Google (GOOG -1.4%) to Hold. "Google is in the early to mid stages of a core business maturation. The company continues to find growth outside of search, but in structurally lower-margin business [segments] such as Google Play and YouTube."
- Devitt adds Google will face stiff competition as it further expands into vertical search categories such as travel, local, and e-commerce - some of those efforts have been faring well - and echoes other analysts in arguing Facebook's growing share of digital ad spend poses a threat.
- Devitt has also downgraded Priceline (PCLN -1.3%) to Hold, citing concerns about forex - the impact of a weak euro is already well-known - high marketing spend, and growing competition. "The online travel market continues to benefit from secular tailwinds such as mobile adoption, but we believe that shifts in the competitive landscape and macro headwinds warrant a moderate 2015 outlook."
- TripAdvisor (TRIP +0.4%) has been cut to Hold due to worries about delayed booking service launches and higher marketing spend, as well as growth concerns about TripAdvisor's core metasearch service (previous).
- Google, Priceline and TripAdvisor were already fairly close to their 52-week lows going into today. Google and Priceline both now trade for 17x 2015E EPS. Their 2015 revenue growth consensus estimates are respectively at 19% and 17%.
Dec. 17, 2014, 4:00 PM
- Gillian Tans, the COO of Priceline's (PCLN +2.8%) giant Booking.com unit (based out of Amsterdam), has been promoted to president and "will assume responsibility for the day-to-day operations." In addition, David Vismans, who has been serving as Booking.com's front-end product director, is now the travel site's chief product officer.
- Darren Huston remains Booking.com's CEO, but he'll now have an "increased focus on talent development and driving long-term growth across Booking.com and The Group."
- Meanwhile, Priceline has named Ian Brown, until now the COO of U.K.-based Rentalcars.com, the unit's CEO. He replaces Rentalcars.com co-founder Greg Willis, who will now act as executive chairman.
- The shakeup comes six weeks after Priceline offered soft Q4 guidance that had much to do with slowing European bookings growth (caused in part by a weak euro).
- Priceline followed equity markets higher today. Shares sold off yesterday thanks to a Goldman downgrade and broader Internet stock selloff.
Dec. 16, 2014, 9:50 AM
- Believing forex headwinds (especially a weak euro) will offset share gains, Goldman's Heath Terry has pulled Priceline (PCLN -1.7%) from its Conviction Buy list, and slightly cut his 2014-2016 EPS estimates.
- However, Terry maintains a Buy rating, arguing Priceline will continue outgrowing the broader online travel market as mobile usage and the adoption of metasearch platforms (e.g. TripAdvisor, Kayak, Trivago) drives share consolidation and yields margin growth.
- FBR downgraded Priceline two weeks ago. Following a 9% YTD drop, shares go for 17x 2015E EPS.
- Yesterday: Priceline makes offer to end European probes
Dec. 15, 2014, 6:13 PM
- Priceline's (NASDAQ:PCLN) huge Booking.com unit has proposed giving hotel partners more leeway to offer cheaper prices on rival sites (something often prohibited by its current deals), in order to end probes from French, Italian, and Swedish antitrust regulators who have been working with the EC.
- The proposal would still require hotel owners signing price parity agreements not to undercut Booking.com on their own sites, but would allow them to do so on rival sites such as Expedia's (NASDAQ:EXPE) Hotels.com.
- International bookings accounted for 88% of Priceline's Q3 bookings; European purchases made via Booking.com undoubtedly accounted for a big chunk of the total.
- Priceline fell 2.3% in regular trading, and Expedia fell 0.2%. The Nasdaq was down 1%.
Dec. 5, 2014, 7:06 PM
- Priceline (NASDAQ:PCLN) and Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) have made their hotel inventory available for in-app bookings through Priceline-owned Kayak and travel startup Top10's app. However, they refuse to do the same for the Instant Bookings feature within TripAdvisor's (NASDAQ:TRIP) mobile apps.
- Priceline and Expedia's stance highlights the tension between the companies and TripAdvisor. While TripAdvisor drives plenty of traffic to both companies' sites (in exchange for referral fees) through its metasearch platform, it also does so for many rival sites, and (like Google) acts as an alternative to directly using Priceline and Expeida's platforms.
- TripAdvisor's click-based ad revenue (metasearch-driven) rose 31% Y/Y in Q3 to $247M. It's expected to grow at a mid-20s to high-20s clip for the whole of 2014.
Dec. 2, 2014, 10:06 AM
- Though Priceline (PCLN -0.9%) remains well-positioned competitively, it "appears to be entering the latter stages of its growth cycle, and that can be a tough transition for investors to work with," writes FBR's Jake Fuller, downgrading to Market Perform.
- Priceline is a month removed from selling off due to the light Q4 guidance provided with its Q3 EPS beat. The online travel giant, known for guiding conservatively, has forecast bookings growth will slow to 8%-15% in Q4 from 28% in Q3.
Dec. 2, 2014, 2:19 AM
- After making the company’s biggest deal ever in the summer, Priceline (NASDAQ:PCLN) Chief Executive Darren Huston says he is still willing to consider additional takeovers.
- Apart from the $2.6B OpenTable acquisition, the company has been mostly expanding through travel websites, like booking.com and Kayak.com.
- "We’re not a serial acquirer," cautioned Huston saying Priceline will be selective in any deals it pursues. "We have six brands at the table. We can’t have 15 brands."
- PCLN -0.1% AH
Nov. 20, 2014, 7:39 PM
- Skift reports Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is "poised to launch its own travel service, featuring booking at independent hotels and resorts near major cities." The service, known as Amazon Travel, will likely go live around New Year's, and initially "feature a curated selection of hotels" near NYC, L.A., and Seattle.
- Amazon would collect a standard 15% commission from hoteliers who would upload inventory and set prices. A source says hoteliers would normally list properties at rack rates, but would also be free to discount.
- Though limited in scope, Amazon's service would put the company into competition with online travel agencies (OTAs) such as Priceline (NASDAQ:PCLN), Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE), and Orbitz (NYSE:OWW). OTAs have already seen Google, the recipient of much of their ad spend, encroach on their turf a bit with new services.
- As Skift notes, Amazon could appeal to independent/boutique hotels with less marketing reach than major chains. Amazon, meanwhile, could leverage its user data to cross-sell or bundle various goods.
- Separately, Amazon has inked a 17-year lease to rent 470K sq. feet of office space (effectively an entire 12-story building) across from the Empire State Building. The WSJ previously reported Amazon wants the building to be the location of its first brick-and-mortar store, and also serve as a warehouse and order pickup/return hub.
Nov. 4, 2014, 9:15 AM
The Priceline Group, Inc. is an online travel company, which provides consumers accommodation reservations including hotels, bed and breakfasts, hostels, apartments, vacation rentals and other properties through its Booking.com, priceline.com and agoda.com brands. Its priceline.com brand also... More
Industry: General Entertainment
Country: United States
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