Avis Budget Posts Wider Loss, Beats Street

Avis Budget's first-quarter loss widens from a year ago as demand falls below post 9/11 levels.
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Avis Budget

(CAR) - Get Report

reported a narrower-than-expected first-quarter loss, but said slackening demand amid the recession hit it hard during the period.

After the market closed Wednesday, Avis reported a loss of $49 million, or 48 cents a share, besting analysts' expectations of a 63-cent loss per share. In the year-earlier period, the company was also in the red, losing $12 million, or 11 cents a share. All those figures exclude one-time items.

Revenue slid 17% to $1.19 billion from $1.4 billion a year ago.

The company blamed the results on the recession, which has hit the travel industries particularly hard. It said the decline in demand has been worse than what it experienced in the aftermath of September 11, 2001.

Avis shares traded higher in advance of the report Wednesday, closing the regular session at $3.65, up more than 12%, but gave a slice of those gains back in after-market trading, moving recently at $3.59.

Looking ahead, Avis struck cautious notes, saying it expects comparisons with 2008 to "begin to improve in the second half of 2009, although it is very difficult to estimate the pace of such improvement at this time."

Cost-cutting measures could end up saving the company more than $100 million over the course of the year, Avis said.

Earlier Wednesday, Avis rival

Dollar Thrifty

(DTG)

also posted a loss that was less than what analysts were expecting. Its shares rose on the news by 15%, closing at $5.45.

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