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Market Preview: A Rally on Stilts?

Meantime, earnings season seems to be ending with a bit of a whimper if Tuesday's after-hours disappointments (more on that later) are any indication and Jefferies pointed out a disturbing coincidence in its commentary on second-quarter reporting season earlier in the day.

"The ongoing distractions from Europe and last week's series of central bank meetings interrupted the conclusion of the US 2Q earnings season," the firm said. "As we highlighted prior to the results season, companies had already managed earnings and sales forecasts lower. Indeed, the drop in earnings revisions over the past four weeks has matched almost the declines seen during the worst period of 2008."

As for Wednesday's scheduled news, Orbitz Worldwide (OWW) is slated to offer up its second-quarter results before the opening bell. The online travel reservation company is already seeing some selling pressure after Priceline.com (PCLN) gave an underwhelming outlook after the close.

The average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters is calling for a profit of a nickel a share in the June-ended period from Orbitz on revenue of $207.7 million. The stock is up more than 15% so far in 2012 and hit a new 52-week high of $4.75 in Tuesday's regular session so the stakes are elevated ahead of this print.

The sell side, though, is still skeptical with 8 of the 9 analysts covering the shares at either hold (7) or underperform (1) and the 12-month median price target sitting at $4, implying potential downside of 14% to Tuesday's close at $4.66.

Benchmark, however, is the lone bull on Orbitz. The firm rates the stock at overweight with a $6 price target and said before Tuesday's trading that it believes the shares "offer excellent value with meaningful upside at current levels." Benchmark is looking for year-over-year growth in bookings of 5% and revenue of $210 million in the June quarter.

"We believe Orbitz is receiving only nominal credit for the turnaround in its domestic leisure business as a result of the global platform migration, with the AmEx [American Express (AXP)] opportunity also likely understated," the firm said. "We also note that, while hotel only accounts for roughly 37% of revenue, the AmEx partnership should increase Orbitz' hotel exposure to just over 40%, while further growth in private label, packages and standalone hotel could drive hotel to 50% of revenue within 2-3 years."

Based on that potential for a surge in revenue from hotel reservations, Benchmark thinks the shares merit a higher multiple.

"Orbitz trades at 10x our 2012E EPS of $0.42 and 8x our 2012E EBITDA of $140 million compared with our eTravel group at 19x and 12x, respectively," the firm said. "We believe Orbitz may record rebounding profit growth by growing hotel exposure and expanding its private label partnerships. We believe a multiple of 14x 2012E EPS, or 9x EBITDA, is reasonable, resulting in a price target of $6 per share."

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

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