Boston, MA, 02/27/2014 (usastockreport) – Priceline.com Inc (NASDAQ:PCLN) has been successful to hunt down United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS), as it replaced the latter at the number 57 spot in S&P 500 in terms of market capitalization. It was apparent from the travel booking company’s latest highs following an above-par performance in the fourth quarter.
Company’s Fourth-Quarter Results Review And Guidance
Priceline.com Inc (NASDAQ:PCLN) surprised the Street with its better-than-expected performance for the continuous last two quarters, in spite of weak guidance projected earlier. The travel company’s fourth quarter earnings per share stood at $8.85, beating the market consensus of 56 cents per share by a wide margin. It topped the revenue estimates too by $20 million at $1.54 billion, which is a whopping 30% increase year-over-year.
The conservative Q4 guidance put forth by the company stands blown up by the robust gross bookings. The gross bookings rose 38.8% year-over-year, ahead of the Q3 37.5% and the forecast of 27%-34% range by the company. International bookings, which forms 85% of the total bookings grew 41.2% against the 41.8% growth in the third quarter, while domestic bookings recorded 26.5% growth as against 16.7% in the previous quarter.
Priceline.com Inc (NASDAQ:PCLN) received rating upgradation from several analysts, Stifel, one among them, has revised the price target up from $1,250 to $1,500. Stifel noted that the strong fourth quarter hotel room night growth achieved by the company as well as the competitors indicate solid growth momentum in global travel. Moreover, the research firms mentioned that the company’s operation margins are under pressure due to a larger marketing spend, but it still better than expected. Priceline’s marketing expenditure grew 36% to $472 million in the fourth quarter.
Analyst at Evercore has hiked the bookings growth for the year 2014 from 28% to 32%, but kept the gross profit forecast raised by just 2%.