Priceline 2Q Profit Up 24 Percent, Beats Street View

NORWALK, Conn. (AP) -

Travel website Priceline said its net income shot up 24 percent in the second quarter, as customers booked more flights, rental cars and hotels.

The company’s hotel room business growth was “steady,” while the rental car division’s growth improved, said CEO Jeffery Boyd. “The summer travel season got off to a strong start for our brands,” he said in a statement.

Spending on travel is sensitive to the health of the economy. The company had said earlier this year that it was dealing with economic uncertainty in some parts of the world, as well as stiff competition from other travel websites.

Shares climbed 5.3 percent to $983 in aftermarket trading Thursday. The stock closed regular trading at $933.75, up 50 percent since the start of the year.

Profit in the April-June quarter came to $437.3 million, or $8.39 per share, up from $352.3 million, or $6.88 per share, in the same months last year. Excluding one-time items such as acquisition costs and expenses related to paying employees with stock, earnings came to $9.70 per share.

Revenue rose 27 percent, to $1.68 billion, from $1.33 billion in the 2012 second quarter.

Analysts, on average, were expecting profit of $9.38 per share on revenue of $1.65 billion, according to FactSet.

The value of the hotels, airfare and other bookings customers made through Priceline’s websites grew 38 percent to $10.1 billion. During the quarter, Priceline.com Inc. closed on a $1.8 billion acquisition of fare-comparison website Kayak. The Norwalk, Conn. company also operates booking.com, rentalcars.com and agoda.com.

For the current quarter, Priceline expects profit, excluding one-time items, of $15.30 to $16.30 per share, in line with analysts’ average estimate of $15.84.

The company predicts revenue growth of 23 to 30 percent. Based on $1.71 billion in revenue in the 2012 third quarter, that implies a forecast for revenue of $2.1 billion to $2.22 billion. Wall Street is calling for revenue of $2.19 billion.