Passengers don't appreciate late arrivals. Investors can get even more fussy when their stocks pull in slowly at the gate. So let's hear it for (NASDAQ:PCLN) after the company soundly beat Wall Street's targets. It's become a common sight -- the online travel booking specialist has failed to come in ahead of analyst expectations just once over the last four years.

True to form, the company saw earnings before stock-based compensation and acquisition related charges soar to $0.72 a share after earning just $0.47 per share on a similar basis a year ago. The pros were expecting the pro forma profitability to come in at just $0.67 a share. The top line inched 21% higher to check in at $313.5 million.

Gross travel bookings were up 48% to $903.2 million for its September quarter, but that's not necessarily indicative of the company's booming popularity. Overseas acquisitions have helped stir up new business as organic domestic gross bookings rose a more modest 13% for the period.

It's still all welcome fiscal improvements at Priceline. The company made its mark with its "Name Your Own Price" engine to move distressed inventory from travel service providers, but these days it's also growing nicely through a more conventional portal in the lines of Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) and Sabre's (NYSE:TSG) Travelocity.

The only real mystery at Priceline these days is how much longer it can keep analysts coming up short. After every single quarter this year, Priceline has had to bump up its quarterly guidance.

2006 pro forma EPS guidance

Q1 2006

$1.60 to $1.70

Q2 2006

$1.66 to $1.76

Q3 2006

$1.82 to $1.88

It is also now looking to earn between $2.37 and $2.67 a share in 2007 on the same adjusted basis, so Priceline's high-flying ways aren't likely to be grounded soon.

I'll admit that I was refreshingly surprised by the report. comScore Networks estimates that traffic for the month of September fell to 7.3 million unique visitors after drawing 8.8 million unique visitors a year ago. It's not necessarily a case of Priceline being able to do more with less, one would think, than the company's global expansion that has given the company's engine so many moving parts these days.

Either way, as long as the company keeps hitting it out of the airfield, this is one Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation that seems destined to hit higher ground.

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. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.