Orbitz Comes Full Circle

It's been three years since Orbitz Worldwide (NYSE: OWW  ) posted quarterly results as a stand-alone company. A lot has changed since then. The company has gone through a few different owners, and it's changed its name. Now known as Orbitz Worldwide, the name reflects the company's portfolio of international websites, including Europe's eBooking.

The one thing that hasn't changed is the red ink, but there's good news on that front, too. Yes, Orbitz posted a loss of $32 million during the second quarter. That's actually narrower than last year's showing. Adjusted EBITDA of $34 million clocked in slightly below last year's $36 million showing, though the sum is clocking in 39% higher if we look at the first two quarters of 2007 over the same period a year earlier.

Net revenue inched 11% higher to $229 million, fueled by a 9% uptick in gross bookings. As a testament to its origin as a consortium of major air carrier investors, airfare commissions remain the company's claim to fame. Orbitz booked more than $2.2 billion in air ticketing transactions during the quarter, making up the lion's share of the nearly $3 billion in gross bookings.

Orbitz is a laggard relative to profitable peers like Expedia (Nasdaq: EXPE  ) and Priceline.com (Nasdaq: PCLN  ) . Expedia and Priceline posted healthier gains in gross bookings than Orbitz.

Then again, the market's expectations for the online portal aren't overwhelming. Orbitz was looking to go public last month -- between $16 to $18 a share -- but had to settle for an IPO price of $15. In its first three weeks of trading, the shares have never fetched more than $15; they closed yesterday 13% below the IPO price.

It's awfully tempting to approach Orbitz at this level. Getting in for less than last month's initial investors is compelling. However, until Orbitz begins growing as quickly as its peers on a consistent basis, markdowns will be warranted.

Priceline.com is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation. You can take off with the newsletter for a free 30-day trial subscription trip.  

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz still relies on the portals to get basic travel information, but then he runs off to see if better deals can be had directly with the provider. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool's disclosure policy has a better on-time schedule than your favorite airline.


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