Growth in hotel and rental car bookings boosted revenue at Priceline, but profit dipped due to higher advertising costs. Fred Katayama reports.
A mostly sunny start to the summer travel season for Priceline. The online travel giant's quarterly revenue rose 7 percent, and it saw fast growth in bookings of hotel rooms and rental cars. Its brands include Booking.com, Rentalcars.com and Kayak, among others. But Priceline's bottom line slipped as sharply higher expenses for advertising and sales cut into income. And that profit would've been higher were it not for the stronger dollar hurting international earnings. Profit and revenue at Priceline, a consistent earnings outperformer, again surpassed analysts' forecasts. Its shares, which have underpeformed those of rivals Expedia and Orbitz Worldwide this year, rose in early trading. Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Naved Khan called it a "strong" quarter, saying, "The company's fundamentals remain intact as it continues to gain market share." Priceline was upbeat about the outlook for its current quarter, predicting that it would deliver what it called the "largest quarter" in its history. Hotel bookings are one of its strengths, and it just bought the hotel data company PriceMatch this spring.