How Priceline.com Could Hit $1,000

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - As William Shatner turns 81 today, the company he's most closely associated with, priceline.com ( PCLN), could see a major milestone itself: $1,000 per share.

Piper Jaffray analyst Michael J. Olson believes priceline could hit $1,000 per share in the next 24 months, as the online travel market continues to expand, and priceline continues to maintain its lead in the international market. He rates priceline shares "overweight," and has a $763 price target on shares.

Known for its "Negotiator" ads with Shatner (the company killed off Shatner's character earlier this year), priceline has been able to keep operating margins fairly constant (around 47%), and international booking growth has remained strong.

Shares are up 50.45% year-to-date, but Olson believes there could be an additional 40% or more worth of upside, with non-GAAP earnings of $50 per share realistic in 2015. In the past year, shares of Priceline are up 54.2%.

Olson notes that 78% of priceline's business comes from overseas, and that the company "continues to lead in Europe and has pushed into emerging markets faster than any other online travel bookings site." He estimates that priceline has captured a 6% market share in Europe through Booking.com, more than three times that of rival Expedia ( EXPE) and six times that of Orbitz ( OWW).

The company is also up against Google ( GOOG) in the online travel space, but has been able to stay ahead of its competition, especially in the international market, where it's the leader. The Google launch of Hotel Finder, a change in Google search results and worries about the impact of metasearch travel queries persist, but Olson notes priceline has proven resilient to competition in the past, and is likely to do so in the future.

Priceline continues to suggest that competition is not a major concern, at least on the strength of recent results. The Norwalk, Ct.-based company recently reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings and first-quarter guidance, as CEO Jeffrey Boyd said the company's brands gained market share.

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