Travel-reservations giant Sabre Holdings
The company saw its adjusted profits per share nearly double to $0.43 per share in the fourth quarter, as revenues inched 6% higher to hit $655 million. Analysts were perched slightly higher on both counts, but it doesn't really matter at this point. Sabre's on the way to being taken out at $32.75 a share to a pair of private-equity firms, and even snakes on a plane won't get in the way of this buyout's smooth departure. The deal received antitrust clearance earlier this week.
So why should investors care about Sabre's going-away soiree when they're not invited to the after-party? Well, the company owns Travelocity, an industry bellwether, along with other travel-related booking specialists like Expedia
In that regard, industry watchers should get pumped. Overcoming the meandering ways of Sabre's sleepier reservations backbone business, Travelocity was the big winner. It wound up scoring $10.1 billion in travel bookings for all of 2006, a 35% improvement over the previous year's showing. Travelocity's slice clocked in at $1.1 billion in revenue, a 31% gain over 2005's top-line production.
Like most of the leading online travel sites, Travelocity's biggest growth spurts came in its non-airline transactions. Airfare was the original bread and butter of sites like Travelocity and Expedia until air carriers began scaling back commissions. These days, the meatier growth is found in higher-margin lodging and complete package bookings.
The health at Travelocity should bode well for when Expedia and Priceline report earnings in two weeks. Travelzoo
Yes, Sabre's leaving us for now. Thankfully, it's going out as a lifesaver rather than a light Sabre.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been booking travel online since the 1990s, but he does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool's disclosure policy is guaranteed not to cause airsickness.