If you're an Expedia
But then suddenly, the clouds clear, and you're airborne.
The online travel giant posted strong fourth-quarter results yesterday. Earnings nearly tripled to $0.20 per share. On an adjusted basis, earnings per share climbed 40% higher, to hit $0.28. Gross bookings were up a respectable 9% to $3.7 billion, with revenues inching 7% higher to $531.3 million. The company topped expectations on the top and bottom lines.
Operating income before amortization -- or OIBA, for those who feel that you just can't lug around enough financial acronyms -- rose 10% for the period. The company emphasized that metric. Even if it's not as glossy as the reported earnings spurt, it's fair and in line with the revenue gains.
Expedia's story is one of regional contrasts. Domestic bookings actually inched up just 1%, but a 34% boom in international bookings ultimately drove results higher.
As with Priceline.com
Expedia owns more than just its flagship site. Hotels.com and deal-finding site Hotwire.com are part of the Expedia family. My favorite Expedia site is TripAdvisor.com, which is a great way to read up on travel reviews of places and hotels you plan on hitting later this year.
Unfortunately for Expedia, yesterday's takeoff has hit some choppy air. The stock inched up just $0.03 yesterday, and CIBC World Markets downgraded the stock this morning.
One can argue that Expedia has been airborne all along, and that this is just the market selling on the news. I don't buy it. Sure, Expedia has nearly doubled since bottoming out back in July, but the stock is still trading for less than it did when it began its second publicly traded life two years ago.
In a sector that is bouncing back, where consolidation is proving contagious, Expedia deserves better than that. As bad as I feel for those poor JetBlue passengers, at least they had blue-corn chips to munch on.
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 has a disclosure policy.