Piper Jaffray Ups Priceline.com to Outperform

Says the company stands to benefit from its growing international operations, which now account for 34% of profits

Piper Jaffray upgrades Priceline.com (PCLN ) to outperform from market perform, citing the increasing mix of the company's high-growth international operations.

Analyst Aaron Kessler says those operations now account for 34% of the company's total gross profits. He also cites stabilization in Priceline's domestic business and attractive valuation at 8.5 times his new 2006 earnings before interest taxes depreciation and amortizaiton, or EBITDA, estimate. He sees upside to his $1.62 2006 earnings per share estimates. He also notes that Priceline set a $50 million share buyback. Even after a strong opening, he would still be an aggressive buyer of the stock as he believes investors will begin to appreciate Priceline's strong international position and potential for upside. He raises his $1.27 2005 earnings per share estimate to $1.37 and his $28 12-month stock price target to $30.

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