Ctrip Forecasts Sales Surge as Travel Giant Tightens China Grip

  • Priceline-backed company projects 40-45% growth this quarter
  • Shares climb in extended U.S. trading after results release

Ctrip.com International Ltd. forecast revenue growth of as much as 45 percent this quarter, as the Priceline-backed online travel service benefits from its market dominance during the busiest season for Chinese tourism.

China’s largest online travel operator is predicting revenue growth of 40 to 45 percent in the March quarter, which encompasses the peak Lunar New Year travel period, after reporting results that outpaced analysts’ projections. Non-GAAP earnings almost tripled to 797 million yuan ($116 million) in the quarter. Revenue grew 76 percent to 5.1 billion yuan, beating the 4.98 billion yuan average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Shares in the company were up 4.8 percent in after-hours trade, building on a 1.1 percent advance during Wednesday’s regular session.

Ctrip, in which Priceline Group Inc. owns a stake, wants to become a one-stop platform for travelers around the world. Long-time executive Jane Sun assumed the role of chief executive in November and is now trying to expand the service beyond its core markets. 

Non-GAAP operating profit for the current quarter will be as much as 850 million yuan, Chief Financial Officer Cindy Wang said on a conference call.

Sun was instrumental in orchestrating its largest-ever acquisition, a $1.7 billion deal for Skyscanner Holdings Ltd. in 2016. She plans to convert the U.K.-based price comparison website into a full travel platform and intertwine its search engine with Ctrip’s services as it markets its brands to other Asian markets. 

Domestically, it shored up its presence in rural China in 2016 by acquiring Traveling Bestone, a chain of 5,000 agencies in lower-tier cities.

— With assistance by David Ramli

    Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.