Travelocity.com parent SabreHoldings
The news wasn't a well-guarded secret. The stock soared yesterday as various media outlets reported that the private equity consortium was making a play on the company and that Apollo Group was mounting a rival bid.
Sabre's business stems beyond Travelocity. The company's bread and butter lies in its pioneering ways of facilitating bookings for airlines and more conventional travel agents. However, Travelocity.com transfer of ownership is significant because it's not the first time in recent months that a travel portal has changed hands.
Cendant sold off Orbitz earlier this year, and IAC/InterActiveCorp
Why is everyone selling? Or, put another way, why is everyone buying? Is Priceline.com
The travel portals haven't been as prominent as they were when Travelocity and Expedia ruled the roost as stand-alone public companies. Back then, they were revolutionary in consumer education, breaking new ground by providing side-by-side comparisons of various travel alternatives. However, as airlines, hoteliers, and car rental agencies have beefed up their online outlets, many consumers are cutting out the portals and booking directly with the providers.
This doesn't mean the sector is dead. Priceline has done quite well lately. Expedia's stock has soared 60% higher since bottoming out this summer. Maybe the private equity firms sense the turnaround and want to buy in before momentum carries asking prices even higher. Either way, Priceline doesn't really have much of a reason to put itself on the block as long as it's rolling along. Then again, you never know when the company's "Name Your Own Price" slogan may apply to prospective bidders as well.
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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.