Priceline.com Inc. (PCLN), the biggest U.S. online travel agency by stock market value, forecast fourth- quarter sales that missed analysts’ estimates, citing concern that the debt crisis in Greece will engulf Europe.
Sales will rise 27 percent to 32 percent from a year earlier, the Norwalk, Connecticut-based company said today in a statement. Analysts on average expected an increase of 36 percent to $994.9 million, according to a Bloomberg survey.
Priceline gets more than 60 percent of its revenue from overseas, where concerns about Greece are threatening spending on international travel. Greece’s prime minister, George Papandreou, is trying to work out a deal to maintain outside financing and avert an economic collapse.
The company said “concerns relating to potential sovereign defaults by Greece and other European states, may subject operating results to greater variability in the future.”
Priceline rose 2.6 percent to $522.28 in late trading after the earnings report. The stock, up 27 percent this year, had closed at $509.
Third-quarter net income more than doubled to $469.5 million, or $9.17 a share, from $223 million, or $4.41, a year earlier. Excluding some costs, profit was $9.95 a share in the period. Analysts had estimated $9.30 on average, according to Bloomberg data. Revenue increased 45 percent to $1.5 billion, compared with the $1.42 billion projected by analysts.
International sales surged 79 percent to $953 million. That accounts for about 66 percent of total revenue, up from 56 percent in the second quarter.
Priceline’s Booking.com, a European business purchased in 2005, has been helping the company take sales from Expedia Inc. (EXPE) and Orbitz Worldwide Inc. (OWW) Expedia said last month that third- quarter revenue climbed 15 percent to $1.14 billion. Orbitz’s revenue rose 4 percent to $202.9 million.
Priceline, whose ads use William Shatner to promote its name-your-own-price service, has expanded into different business models in the past six years to entice international travelers. The company said in December that former Microsoft Corp. executive Darren Huston was taking over its Amsterdam- based Booking.com, replacing founder Kees Koolen.
In addition to Booking.com, the company pushed into Asia in 2007 with the acquisition of Agoda.com in Bangkok. Priceline said today that flooding in Thailand could hurt the company’s results if the situation worsens. Floodwaters have so far inundated seven industrial estates north of Bangkok, crippling global supply chains.
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