Ctrip Surges After Increasing Ties to Priceline

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of Chinese online travel agency Ctrip.com (CTRP) are jumping after the company expanded its partnership with Priceline (PCLN) and received a $500M investment from the U.S. online travel giant.

WHAT'S NEW: Ctrip and Priceline last night announced that under an expanded agreement Ctrip's customers will be able to access all of Priceline's accommodations outside of Greater China, while Priceline's customers will be able to access Ctrip's over 100,000 accommodations within Greater China. Additionally, Priceline and Ctrip will offer their respective hotel inventory to each other on an enlarged scale with more favorable partnership terms, including an agreement to enhance promotional efforts, the companies said. Meanwhile, Priceline will invest $500M in Ctrip through a convertible bond and Ctrip has given Priceline permission to buy Ctrip's shares on the open market. As a result, Priceline will be able to obtain a stake of up to 10% in Ctrip, the companies reported.

ANALYST REACTION: A number of analysts were very upbeat on Ctrip's outlook following the news. In a note to investors today, Oppenheimer analyst Ella Ji wrote that the new deal increases Ctrip's access to Priceline's worldwide inventories and offers more cross-promotion opportunities to Ctrip. The Chinese company's expanding overseas inventory will further enhance its leadership position in China, according to Ji, who kept an Outperform rating on Ctrip. Similarly, Fawne Jiang, an analyst at Brean Capital ,wrote that the deal further enhances Ctrip's leadership position in the Chinese online travel sector. The analyst continues to recommend investing in the stock and sees it as a core holding in the China Internet sector. Jiang kept a $74 price target and Buy rating on the shares. Meanwhile, research firm CLSA responded to the news by upgrading Ctrip two notches, to Buy from Underperform. The firm now has a $78 price target on the shares.

PRICE ACTION: In mid-morning trading, Ctrip jumped 11.8% to $67.60 and Priceline gained 1.2% to $1296.44.

Reporting by Larry Ramer.

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