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TripAdvisor Looks to Bounce Back From a Tough First Half of 2016

By Dan Caplinger – Jul 21, 2016 at 3:58PM

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Investors expect more earnings struggles in its coming report, but can the online travel specialist finish the year strong?

Image source: Getty Images.

The online travel industry has produced huge growth over the years, and travelers have gotten used to going to websites like TripAdvisor's(TRIP -2.86%) site to find the information they need to get a good deal on their vacation plans. Yet concerns about the global economy have weighed on the near-term prospects for online travel.

Coming into TripAdvisor's second-quarter financial report on Aug. 4, investors are bracing for a decline in earnings and sluggish sales figures. Moreover, shareholders will want to know if they should worry about the Brexit vote in the U.K. as potentially having a negative impact for future quarters. Let's take an early look at TripAdvisor to see what the company is likely to tell its investors in its financial report.

Stats on TripAdvisor

Expected EPS growth


Expected revenue growth


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Expected 5-year annualized growth rate


Source: Yahoo! Finance.

What's ahead for TripAdvisor earnings?

In recent months, investors have gotten a lot less optimistic about their views on TripAdvisor earnings. They've reduced their second-quarter estimates by about 14%, and they've lopped between 10% and 15% off their full-year projections for 2016 and 2017. The stock has done a good job of holding its own, however, rising 6% since mid-April.

TripAdvisor's first-quarter results showed the struggles that the company has faced in a tough industry environment. Revenue fell year over year by 3%, and net income plunged by more than two-fifths.

The strong U.S. dollar caused only minimal disruptions to TripAdvisor's results, but ongoing weakness in click-based advertising revenue was enough to outweigh gains from display-based ads and other revenue sources. From a long-term perspective, TripAdvisor remained on track, with 340 million monthly unique visitors to its website, and 350 million reviews covering more than a million hotels.

How TripAdvisor is searching for growth

TripAdvisor certainly hasn't given up on its mission to keep broadening its coverage of the travel industry. In early July, the company introduced an airline reviews platform, which will include all major airlines across the globe, and provide not only pricing, but also information on the quality of experience that travelers received with each airline.

In particular, TripAdvisor hopes that, by revealing hidden fees and other charges that can mask the true total cost of a flight, its review service will become a go-to information source that travelers count on when planning a trip. TripAdvisor will also give more information on in-flight amenities such as Wi-Fi, power supplies, and entertainment options.

TripAdvisor has also chosen an executive specifically charged with producing stronger growth. New Chief Growth Officer Gary Fritz joined TripAdvisor's management team in early July, and he will be responsible for driving growth throughout TripAdvisor's stable of brands. At the same time, Fritz will lead the Asia-Pacific region. Given the importance of that area to global travel-industry growth, TripAdvisor looks smart to put an emphasis on that part of the world as a potential source of future gains.

Nevertheless, TripAdvisor has still had to convince travelers to consider combining bookings in a single visit. A recent promotion offers discounts for tours and activities when travelers book them in conjunction with a hotel reservation. Most of TripAdvisor's peers in the online travel industry offer similar promotions, but TripAdvisor hopes that it can prepare customers to start thinking in terms of simultaneously making travel arrangements in different categories in order to save.

In the TripAdvisor earnings report, investors should compare the company's results with those of its closest rivals to see if the same trends prevail throughout the industry. Ideally, TripAdvisor will be able to differentiate itself from its peers, and find ways to bolster growth. That way, TripAdvisor could set the stage for a nice rebound to finish 2016 strong, and gain momentum for 2017 and beyond.

Dan Caplinger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends TripAdvisor. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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