Priceline's 3Q profit more than triples

AP News
Posted: Nov 09, 2009 5:44 PM Inc. said Monday that its third-quarter profit more than tripled on an "exceptionally strong" summer travel season in which bargain hunters rented more hotel rooms and booked more flights through the online service.

The company, based in Norwalk, Conn., said it has seen more customers turn to the Internet for travel discounts of late, as airlines and hotels have slashed rates to boost recession-dampened demand.

Priceline's hotel room night reservations jumped by 56 percent, on strength in Europe and the U.S. Travel bookings in the U.S. grew by 25 percent.

Priceline said its net income in the third quarter climbed to $319 million, or $6.42 per share, from $84.5 million, $1.74 per share, in the year-ago period. The company benefited from a non-cash tax gain of $181.9 million in the latest quarter. Excluding items, the company said it earned $3.45 per share.

Revenue jumped 30 percent to $730.7 million.

The results easily beat estimates of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters, who had expected net income of $2.92 per share on $694 million in revenue, on average.

Priceline forecast net income of $1.52 to $1.62 per share, excluding items, in the fourth quarter. That is well ahead of the $1.49 per share that analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were expecting.

The stock rose $11.50, or 6.6 percent, to $184.90 in extended trading after the results were reported. It closed earlier up $1.73 at $173.73.