Priceline Declines as Bookings Are Projected to Slow

Priceline Group Inc. shares declined after the online travel agent projected a slowdown in bookings for hotels and flights.

The company, known for its wry advertisements featuring actor William Shatner, expects travel bookings to rise as much as 32 percent in the second quarter, according to a statement today. That’s a slowdown from the 34 percent gain last quarter, and the 38 percent increase in the second quarter a year ago.

The pressure is on Chief Executive Officer Darren Huston, who succeeded 13-year company veteran Jeffery Boyd on Jan. 1, to maintain growth at a company that’s expanded revenue by at least 20 percent for seven straight years.

The profit forecast for the busy summer season also fell short of analysts’ estimates. Earnings per share in the second quarter will be as much as $12.02, the Norwalk, Connecticut-based company said. Analysts projected $12.16, on average.

The shares dropped 2.1 percent to $1,108 at the close in New York. The stock has retreated 4.7 percent during Huston’s tenure this year.

Still, results in the first quarter exceed analysts’ estimates, with earnings rising 36 percent as more international travelers used the website to book hotels and flights. Profit excluding some items totaled $7.81 a share, beating the $6.84 average of estimates.

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