Shares of Priceline Group Inc. surged 4.1% in after-hours trade Thursday, after the online travel booking company beat profit expectations by a wide margin and provided an in-line outlook, which offset a slight sales miss. Earnings for the latest quarter rose to $580.6 million, or $11.60 a share, from $517.0 million, or $9.94 a share, in the same period a year ago. Excluding non-recurring items, adjusted earnings per share came to $13.93, well above the FactSet consensus of $12.67. Revenue rose to $2.56 billion from $2.28 billion, just shy of the FactSet consensus of $2.59 billion, as agency and merchant revenue both missed expectations, while advertising and other revenue topped forecasts. For the third quarter, Priceline expects adjusted EPS of $28.30 to $29.80, surrounding the FactSet consensus of $28.98. In nine of the previous 10 quarterly reports, Priceline had provided an earnings outlook that was below expectations, then beat those lowered expectations in the following earnings report. The stock had run up 6.7% year to date through Thursday's close, while the S&P 500 had gained 5.9%.
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