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Expedia’s Drop Helps Cut $184 Million From Liberty’s Travel Bets

Liberty Interactive Corp.’s stakes in travel sites Expedia Inc. and TripAdvisor Inc. lost a combined $184 million in a single day after disappointing results dragged down shares in both companies.

TripAdvisor tumbled 15 percent yesterday, slicing $132.5 million from Liberty’s 22 percent stake, while Expedia dropped 5.7 percent after the close of trading, slashing those holdings by another $51.7 million, reported on its Tech Deals blog. Liberty, under Chairman John Malone, also owns 22 percent of Expedia.

The companies split up in December, giving investors a chance to own a piece of faster-growing TripAdvisor, with its expanding advertising revenue, without being tied to the more plodding online travel business run by Expedia. TripAdvisor shares gained 25 percent from when they started trading on Dec. 7, through the middle of this week, while Expedia gained 22 over that stretch. Both outstripped the S&P 500’s 7 percent gain.

That changed Feb. 8, after TripAdvisor reported fourth-quarter profit excluding some costs that missed analysts’ average estimate, prompting at least three securities firms to cut ratings on the shares. The company has invested heavily in China and said it will lose money there through 2012, banking on a future payout.

Then Expedia today reported quarterly sales of $787.1 million -- almost $30 million less than analysts expected, thanks in part to a 19 percent plunge in worldwide revenue from airlines.

Liberty, which has part ownership of Time Warner Inc., the website Evite Inc. and home-shopping network QVC, fell less than 0.1 percent today to $18.23 and remains up 12 percent for the year. Liberty’s own fourth-quarter report is due on Feb. 23.

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