Priceline (PCLN) Pleases With Earnings Beat

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Priceline (PCLN) was gaining in pre-market trading as investors processed third-quarter earnings released the night before. Shares had gained 1.5% to $1,038 before the bell.

The online travel agent beat expectations with earnings of $17.30 a share $1.15 higher than analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had predicted. Revenue of $2.27 billion beat estimates by $50 million. Gross travel bookings boosted the top line, rising 37.5% compared to the year-ago quarter.

For the fourth quarter, the Connecticut-based company said it expects to see gross travel bookings increase between 27% and 34% compared to the same quarter a year earlier. International bookings are expected to lead the pack, up 29% to $36%, while domestic bookings should see no-less-impressive 17% to 24% growth. Net profit is expected within the range of $7.80 to $8.30 a share, compared to a consensus estimate of $8.27 a share.

Earnings in the online travel industry have been mixed this season, with Expedia (EXPE) trumping expectations and Orbitz (OWW) falling short.

Priceline also announced current president and CEO Jeffrey Boyd would step down as of Jan. 1 but remain on the board as chairman. Darren Huston, the current chief of Priceline's Booking.com unit, has been named incoming CEO.

TheStreet Ratings team rates Priceline.com Inc as a Buy with a ratings score of A. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate Priceline.com Inc (PCLN) a BUY. This is based on the convergence of positive investment measures, which should help this stock outperform the majority of stocks that we rate. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures, solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth and expanding profit margins. Although the company may harbor some minor weaknesses, we feel they are unlikely to have a significant impact on results."

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