Priceline Posts Beat in 1Q But Gloomy Current-Quarter Outlook

Priceline (NASDAQ:PCLN) reported better-than-expected first-quarter earnings and sales late Thursday as bookings climbed over the prior year.

Shares of the digital travel company slumped 2.2% after hours, however, as Priceline predicted second-quarter EPS between $8.87 and $9.45, far below the consensus view of $9.57 a share, and expressed concerns over sovereign debt woes and the viability of the euro.

“We continue to see economic uncertainty in certain regions, and competition in the online travel sector remains intense,” CEO Jeffery Boyd said in a statement.

Priceline sees current-quarter revenues growing 15% to 22%.

Despite the cautious outlook, the company posted top- and bottom-line beats in its most recent quarter. The Norwalk, Conn.-based online travel site reported net income of $244.3 million, or $4.76 a share, compared with a year-earlier profit of $181.97 million, or $3.54 a share.

Excluding one-time items, Priceline said it earned $5.76 a share, topping average analyst estimates of $5.27 a share in a Thomson Reuters poll.

Revenue was $1.3 billion, up from $1.04 billion a year ago, narrowly ahead of the Street’s view of $1.28 billion, fueled by a 36.4% improvement in gross travel bookings to $9.2 billion, which includes all travel services purchased by its customers inclusive of taxes and fees.

Domestic gross bookings growth accelerated in the quarter with improving results in Priceline’s hotel and rental car businesses, while international gross bookings climbed 43%.

Boyd said Priceline is encouraged by the businesses’ recent “solid growth” despite broader economic headwinds.