SAN FRANCISCO -- Shares of Expedia (EXPE) - Get Report were lower Thursday after the company posted a fourth-quarter loss that missed Wall Street estimates.

The online travel firm's chairman, Barry Diller, also joined the chorus of corporate leaders uncertain of when better days may come.

"The story of 2008 -- and 2009 for that matter -- is clearly the global recession and its impact on nearly every sector of our economy," said Diller in a press release. "When we emerge from this downturn is anyone's guess, but what certainly is not a guess is Expedia's global leadership in travel and our conservative management, both of which will allow us to weather a downturn of almost any length and come out stronger than when this mess began."

That's quite an optimistic finish for a guy who just wrote down $3 billion of his company's value.

The writedown threw a $2.76 billion loss on the company's books for the fourth quarter. Excluding that item, Expedia earned $64.9 million, or 22 cents a share, missing Wall Street estimates by 2 cents.

Due to the size of the charge, Expedia said it amended a credit agreement to replace its tangible net worth covenant with a minimum interest coverage covenant. As a result, several financial covenant levels were tightened, and pricing on the company's borrowings increased by 200 basis points.

Fourth-quarter revenue declined 6.7% to $620.8 million, missing analysts' consensus estimate of $631.1 million.

Shares of Expedia were recently down 92 cents, or 10.8%, to $7.61.

Gross bookings fell 11% in the fourth quarter, including a 13% drop in North America.

The dollar's strength also nipped at Expedia's results. The company said revenue would have risen 0.7% if not for a foreign-exchange hit, particularly the depreciation of the euro, British pound and Canadian dollar. The company expects it will also feel pain in the first quarter from year-over-year declines in those currencies.

Expedia's free cash flow, its cash from operating activities minus capital expenditures, held roughly flat at a negative $287.6 million. For the entire fiscal year, however, free cash flow fell to $360.8 million from $625.4 million.

Despite the rough macro-economic outlook affecting all companies, Expedia's results don't stack up well against those of

Priceline.com

(PCLN)

, which late Wednesday posted a fourth-quarter profit that beat analysts' estimates, with revenue growth of 21.2% and a bookings increase of 23%.

Priceline was up nearly 17% in recent trading to $80.29.