ELong CEO Discusses Q4 2010 Results - Question & Answer Session Transcript

eLong, Inc. ( LONG)

Q4 2010 Earnings Call

February 17, 2011 7:00 PM ET

Executives

Mike Doyle – CFO

Guangfu Cui – CEO

Analysts

Ming Zhao – SIG

Fawne Jiang – Brean Murry, Carret & Co

Adam Krejcik – Roth Capital Partners

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

Thank you, sir. (Operator Instructions) Our first question is coming from the line of Ming Zhao from SIG. Please go ahead.

Ming Zhao – SIG

Thank you very much. Good morning, Guangfu and Mike. I have two questions here. The first question is on the hotel mix shift towards more budget hotel. Do you think your fourth quarter mix is already at the balanced structure meaning percentage-wise the budget hotel in the whole mix is stabilized going forward or do we still see this percentage of budget hotel going up in 2011?

Mike Doyle

Hi Ming, this is Mike. It’s difficult to say exactly where the budget hotel mix will settle. We’ve seen an increase each quarter now on six quarters running. We have stabilized a bit versus last quarter and about 35% of our room nights in the budget segment and this is up considerably from Q4 ‘09. We think that as the China consumer purchases travel for the first time and is purchasing travel online for the first time. Budget hotels represents an attractive product to them and we feel there is a lot of growth still in that segment.

Ming Zhao – SIG

Yeah I guess the reason I asked the question is I see your room night growth in the fourth quarter was very good, almost 40% year-over-year, but the revenue is up by 25% which is partly because of this shift. So going forward would you say that this gap between your volume growth and revenue growth will be narrower and narrower?

Mike Doyle

Yeah it’s difficult to say. We can comment on is the revenue per room nights decline of 10% in the quarter was driven by couple of factors. The coupon program and mix shift to budget slightly, budget hotels slightly offset by an increase in ADR. The coupon program is the bigger of the two impacts and so as the coupon program has expanded in popularity and customers have responded well to it, the percentage of room nights from that promotion has increased.

Guangfu Cui

Let me just add a couple of points here Ming. If you look at the expansion plans from the hoteliers here in China, and you are seeing that more new hotels are being build in the budget sectors and if you look at the demand side, you can still see that the online customers which is our primary focus customer and are primary products, the buy out of the our own website transaction are the budget hotels. So, demand for the budget hotels are quite high and the supply is also growing very robust here in China. So, it’s hard, as Mike said, it’s hard to see it but from the demand and supply, we can comfortably kind of project that budget hotel we will have another good year in China in 2011. So, we want to capture that demand online and we want to capture this segment of growth. Thank you, Ming.

Ming Zhao – SIG

Okay, thank you. And my second question is regarding your Q1 guidance, the year-over-year growth in the revenue I assume that most of the growth is coming from hotel and you are still de-emphasizing the air ticketing business. But if we look at the growth of the hotel, there is a deceleration from what you in the fourth quarter, which is already post the Expo. So, could you give us some assumptions you have behind your guidance?

Mike Doyle

Hi, this is Mike. We’re not going to break the guidance into product forecast but you’re right in your assumption that the growth is being driven by our hotel business, which is our primary focus. We had a year-on-year decline in air segment in Q4 as we announced minus 3% and we’re still seeing a continued deceleration of air segment volumes in Q1. So, it’s the slowdown in the air ticketing business which is reducing the overall business growth. But the hotel business where we’re focused is still seeing accelerated growth.

Ming Zhao – SIG

Okay. Thank you.

Operator

Thank you, sir. Moving over to the next question, it’s coming from the line of Fawne Jiang from Brean Murray. Please go ahead.

Fawne Jiang – Brean Murray

Good morning, Guangfu and Mike. First question is actually regarding your 2011 growth. Can you comment on the trend given we had World Expo for 2010 and what’s the general outlook for 2011 you see?

Mike Doyle

We’re only going to provide a guidance, top line guidance for our Q1 but we can’t speak to the macro environment which we feel optimistic about. Some of the same drivers that were in place in 2010 leading to our full year performance are still in place and we feel like the leisure customer again will fuel growth in 2011. As many players in the travel industry have stated, it’s difficult to think about the year-on-year growth comparables overlapping the actual period in Q2 and 3. So, we’re cautious there but believe that the macro trends are still very strong in 2011.

Fawne Jiang – Brean Murray

Yeah, thank you, Mike. The second question is actually regarding the competitive landscape for the online travel industry. It seems like quite a few new players have entered the space. Can you just comment on your view regarding the competition in 2011 and how would that potentially impact eLong?

Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com

More from Stocks

Tyson Foods CEO: We Aren't Done Making Deals

Tyson Foods CEO: We Aren't Done Making Deals

The Single Biggest Reason Trade War Fears Could Finally Topple the Stock Market

The Single Biggest Reason Trade War Fears Could Finally Topple the Stock Market

Stocks Dive Globally as U.S.-China Trade War Intensifies

Stocks Dive Globally as U.S.-China Trade War Intensifies

5 Stock Picks Under $10 for Millennials

5 Stock Picks Under $10 for Millennials

China Trade War, Google, JD.com, Tesla, Brooks Koepka - 5 Things You Must Know

China Trade War, Google, JD.com, Tesla, Brooks Koepka - 5 Things You Must Know