Priceline Beats Earnings Expectations, Says Will Slow Down OpenTable Expansion

By Markets MarketWatch Pulse

Shares of Priceline Group Inc. rose nearly 3.9% late Monday after the online travel site reported third-quarter per-share earnings and sales above expectations. Priceline said it earned $506 million, or $10.13 a share, in the quarter, compared with $1.2 billion, or $23.41 a share, in the year-ago period. Adjusted for one-time items, Priceline said it earned $1.6 billion, or $31.18 a share, in the quarter, compared with $25.35 a share a year ago. Sales rose to $3.69 billion in the quarter, from $3.10 billion a year ago. Analysts polled by FactSet had expected adjusted earnings of $29.92 a share on sales of $3.62 billion in the quarter. The company said its profits were dragged down by a non-cash charge of $941 million relating to OpenTable, the company's online restaurant reservation business it acquired in 2014. Priceline said the charge is related to changes in OpenTable's business strategy "as it relates to OpenTable's international expansion and other growth opportunities." The change in strategy resulted in OpenTable updating its forecasted financial results to reflect a "material reduction" in forecasted long-term financial results from the initiatives, Priceline said. "While OpenTable will continue to pursue these growth opportunities, they will do so on a more measured and deliberate basis," it said. Shares of Priceline had ended the regular session up 3.9%.

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