When a stock is down nearly 18% year to date and its quarterly top-line and bottom-line growth are slipping, it is OK to be worried.
The company, with its huge travel community in the world of reviews and opinions, is a network play, similar to Facebook.
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A deep-value, early-stage application, TripAdvisor continues to retain the potential to be the tollbooth for the global travel market. Any recent weakness in the stock should signal to long-term investors to buy into this solid story.
Travel stocks have tumbled from one problem to another this year, including the Brexit fallout.
Online travel stocks such as Expedia (down 5.7%) and Priceline (up 4.1%), which owns brands such as agoda.com, Booking.com, KAYAK and rentalcars.com, have seen bouts of volatility.
Although Expedia and Priceline are online travel agencies, TripAdvisor is very different.
Its site is a compendium of information, with a lower focus on monetization. TripAdvisor's 24 travel media brands aim to provide users with the most comprehensive travel-planning and trip-taking resources in the travel industry.
So how then does the site make money? TripAdvisor derives the majority of its revenue from click-based advertising and, to a smaller degree, display-based advertising.
The rest of TripAdvisor's revenue is accumulated through a mixture of subscription and transaction-based offerings, as well as content licensing.
A large part of the where-is-the-growth debate haunting TripAdvisor is driven by two quarters of revenue that fell below expectations.
Investors should also look at the inherent value of the massive user-generated content on TripAdvisor. No competitor or industry peer has that amount of user-generated information, making it the Facebook of online travel.
A hit with millennials, who travel more and rely on TripAdvisor for information, and with the invaluable asset in the form of customer reviews, which serve as branding tools, the company's website reaches 340 million unique monthly visitors.
The opinions on TripAdvisor cover more than 6.5 million accommodations, restaurants and attractions. Plus it boasts sites that operate in 48 markets worldwide.
Be it hotels, attractions or the newly launched airline reviews, the sheer size of valuable information on TripAdvisor makes it the go-to place for those planning to travel. That is why TripAdvisor is a smart undervalued bet on multi-year growth.
Additionally, OTAs are prone to fundamental risks that TripAdvisor is innately protected against. OTAs compete on price, thereby reducing customer loyalty.
If an Expedia customer gets the best prices at agoda, he or she will switch. Plus, some hotel chains are proposing better discounts to loyalty club members in a bid to lower the amount of costs doled out to online third-party services.
TripAdvisor has a more strategic positioning. Thanks to its plethora of customer data and customer reviews/opinions, the company has much higher user stickiness.
With growth in the online travel industry not expected to slow any time soon, TripAdvisor, with its unique business model is sitting pretty, given its popularity, brand positioning and strong network.
Buy this stock for the long term.
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This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.