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Market Preview: A Cautious Advance


Despite the strong run-up this year, the sell side is still overwhelmingly bullish with 19 of the 22 analysts covering the company at either strong buy (4) or buy (15) and the 12-month median price target at $800, implying potential upside of 17% from Monday's close at $665.12.

Benchmark is among the stock's biggest fans, rating it at overweight, the equivalent of a strong buy, with an $840 price target. The firm is looking for a profit of $7.41 a share for the quarter, a nickel ahead of consensus, and EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) of $474 million.

"We expect growth will moderate sequentially as Priceline faces its most difficult comparisons of the year with 70% bookings growth and 44% revenue growth in 2Q11," Benchmark said. "However, healthy domestic travel demand coupled with the ongoing domestic retail hotel initiative along with strong growth in the APAC Asia-Pacific region through Agoda may still drive 32% bookings growth to $7.6 billion and revenue growth of 24% y/y to $1.37 billion, slightly ahead of consensus at $1.35 billion."

The firm thinks events across the pond have held the market's enthusiasm for Priceline in check of late, even in the face of industry evidence to the contrary.

"Expectations have become somewhat muted despite strong 2Q results from Expedia (EXPE) given the ongoing challenges in Europe and repeated conservative guidance," Benchmark said. "While reported revenues are again expected to be impacted by the strategic shift away from a primarily opaque domestic platform to a more traditional retail model -- opaque revenues are reported on a gross basis -- we think there could be upside to our 10% estimated domestic bookings growth driven by robust leisure travel demand, particularly in the hotel industry as evidenced by low-single digit growth in occupancy and mid-single digit growth in ADRs average daily rates ."

Check out TheStreet's quote page for Priceline for year-to-date share performance, analyst ratings, earnings estimates and much more.

The other big earnings reports on Tuesday are Sirius XM Radio (SIRI) and Dow component Walt Disney (DIS).

Wall Street is looking for a profit of 2 cents a share from Sirius in its second quarter on revenue of $834.4 million, up from a first-quarter top-line total of $804.7 million. The company has topped expectations in four the past five quarters, and the stock is up more than 15% in 2012.

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