The shares of bellwether online travel agency Expedia Group (EXPE -1.02%) were making like a powerful airliner and ascending this week. Following very encouraging quarterly results published late last week, several analysts published bullish takes on the stock in the subsequent days. Investors took these to heart, driving Expedia's price up by nearly 9% week to date as of Thursday evening, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.
Expedia's climb actually started last week, following the publication of its fourth-quarter earnings last Thursday after market close. These revealed that the company's revenue rose by nearly 150% year over year to just under $2.28 billion, on gross bookings that advanced more than 130% to just under $17.5 billion.
It's important to note that the year-ago period, late 2020, was in the thick of the coronavirus pandemic when closures and cancellations were the norm. When compared to pre-pandemic Q4 2019 figures, the latest results represent a decline of 17% in revenue, and a 25% drop in gross bookings.
Meanwhile, on the bottom line the company flipped to a $167 million non-GAAP (adjusted) net profit, or $1.06 per share, from the steep $376 million loss of Q4 2020.
Both headline numbers trounced analyst expectations. On average, expectations were for $2.31 billion in revenue, and merely $0.70 for adjusted per-share net profit.
Expedia CEO Peter Kern said in a statement, "Notably, the travel industry and traveling public prove more resilient with each passing wave, and we continue to expect a solid overall recovery in 2022, barring a change in the trajectory of the virus."
Unabashedly impressed by Expedia's convincing bottom-line beat, a slew of investment banks and other stock research entities raised their target prices on the company's shares in the wake of the earnings release.
Among the many were Goldman Sachs, raising its level by $20 per share to $220, Bank of America Securities giving a $26 boost to $226, and BTIG lifting its target to $235 from the previous $200. All three of those companies maintained their buy recommendations (or the equivalent) on the high-profile travel stock.