International Bookings Help Priceline to Strong Fourth Quarter

Andrew Klips  |

Online reservations specialist Inc. (PCLN) beat analyst predictions Tuesday afternoon with a 27.7 percent jump in fourth-quarter profit, helped by broad increases, especially in international bookings.

The Norwalk, Connecticut-based company reported revenue of $1.19 billion during the latest quarter, up from $990.77 million in the fourth quarter of 2011.  Fourth-quarter net income totaled $288.7 million, or $5.63 per share, compared to $225.7 million, or $4.41 per share in the year earlier quarter.  Adjusted profits, which exclude one-time items, climbed to $348.5 million, or $6.77 per share, up sharply from $276.8 million, or $5.37 per share in Q4 2011.

Revenue was in line with analyst expectations, but adjusted earnings per share exceeded predictions of $6.53.

Fourth quarter gross travel bookings – or the amount of all transactions processed by during the quarter – rose by 32.9 percent compared to the year earlier period to $6.6 billion.

International bookings in the fourth quarter were particularly robust, rising to $5.49 billion.

“The Priceline Group finished 2012 with a strong 4th quarter showing improving unit growth in hotel room and rental car day reservations,” said Jeffery H. Boyd, Chairman and CEO of The Priceline Group. “International gross bookings growth of 43% on a local currency basis in the 4th quarter evidenced the resilience of the business in 2012 despite economic uncertainty in our core European market.”

For the full 2012 year, gross travel bookings increased 31.4 percent to $28.5 billion.  Gross profit rose 32.6 percent to $4.1 billion while GAAP income expanded to $1.42 billion, or $27.66 per share, compared to $1.06 billion, or $20.63 per share in 2011.

Looking ahead, Priceline thinks it will earnings per share for the first quarter will be in the range of $4.90 to $5.30 on a non-GAAP basis and that sales will increase between 17 percent and 24 percent, equating to a range of $1.17 billion to $1.24 billion.

Analysts were expecting EPS forecasts of $5.17 on revenue of $1.24 billion.

Shares closed the regular trading session at $678.49, but surged in extended trading to the area of $700 with the earnings beat and optimistic outlook. With the after-hours move, shares of PCLN are up about 20 percent in the past 52 weeks.

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