If you're not rushing out to buy into the upcoming Orbitz initial public offering, welcome to the club. There's no denying that online travel is hot. But Orbitz? It's not.
While the country's third-largest travel site posted a profit in its most recent quarter, it is still showing a loss for the year -- on the heels of last year's deficit. The investing public got excited about InterActiveCorp's
Bargain hunter Priceline.com
Orbitz is in a bit of a pickle. It doesn't bring a new gimmick or discounting wrinkle to the table the way that Priceline, Hotwire, or even Cendant's
Maybe that's why 7 million of the 11 million shares that will be offered are coming from insiders cashing out. I may not be up on my flight-safety protocol, but the moment I see a pilot strapping on a parachute I start to get worried.
With a pricing range between $22 and $24 a share, Orbitz will be raising just over $80 million for the company itself. That doesn't seem like much when you consider that InterActiveCorp recently announced that it would be investing $150 million in additional marketing and operating expenses to improve on Expedia's market-share lead next year.
Making matters worse, Priceline has now started offering traditional fare listings along with its "name your own price" bread and butter.
Yes, I realize that Orbitz has narrowed its losses heading into the year's final quarter on a 39% gain in revenue. We all know that this is a booming sector as folks continue to turn to the Web to research and book travel plans. But until Orbitz sets itself apart as something more than another face in the crowd, I think I'll hold on to my standby ticket and wait for the weather to clear before boarding.
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