Priceline.com

(PCLN)

increased its third-quarter earnings projection, noting business momentum and strength in Europe.

The online travel site said Thursday that it now expects third-quarter earnings of 33 cents to 37 cents a share, up from its August projection of 29 cents to 34 cents a share.

Excluding various items, Priceline targets so-called pro forma earnings of 64 cents to 68 cents a share. The company's previous guidance called for pro forma earnings of 60 cents to 65 cents a share. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call predict earnings of 64 cents a share on this basis.

"Priceline.com continues to experience solid business momentum, particularly in Europe, where quarter-to-date gross travel bookings growth continues to exceed 100%," said President and Chief Executive Jeffery Boyd in a press release.

For the fourth quarter, Priceline sees pro forma earnings of 32 cents to 38 cents a share, bracketing analysts' average estimate of 35 cents.

Looking ahead to 2007, the company forecast pro forma earnings of $2.15 to $2.40 a share, above Wall Street's target of $2.05. Including all items, Priceline expects 2007 earnings per share of $1.22 to $1.47.

Shares of Priceline were rising $1.43, or 4.5%, to $33.01 in premarket trading.