It's a shame that most airlines aren't run like Priceline.com (NASDAQ:PCLN).

Once again, the travel website has landed ahead of schedule, delivering its ninth consecutive quarter of better-than-expected profits. Revenue soared 44% to $514.0 million. Pro forma net income ascended 40% to $1.55 a share. Wall Street was buckled in for just $1.41 a share in adjusted earnings on $495.7 million in revenue.

Priceline has made success a habit. It doesn't simply buzz the control tower every three months -- it flat-out overshoots expectations by a wide margin.

 

EPS

Est.

Difference

Q3 2007

$1.58

$1.28

23.4%

Q4 2007

$0.96

$0.84

14.3%

Q1 2008

$0.76

$0.60

26.7%

Q2 2008

$1.55

$1.41

9.9%

Source: Earnings.com

The stock opened 13% lower this morning, despite besting the perpetually humbled pros by nearly 10%. It may be that spoiled investors have grown used to bigger surprises. It may be that the shares rallied heading into the report. It may also be that the company upped its guidance for the rest of the year, but did so in a cautionary tone as the online travel industry bumps up against economic weakness and airlines scaling back on their flight schedules.

The market's reaction is a pity, because Priceline -- and to a lesser extent Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) -- have become the two online travel sites that investors can rely on to deliver healthy growth these days. Travel-deals publisher Travelzoo (NASDAQ:TZOO) disappointed investors with another hideous report last month. Orbitz Worldwide (NYSE:OWW) posted disappointing results this morning, after its numbers weren't ready in time for its originally scheduled call on Monday. Orbitz even had to cancel an investing conference appearance because of the lapse. The results weren't worth waiting for, with another quarterly loss on a mere 1% top-line uptick.

Sure, investors can find growth in online travel overseas. In China, you have Ctrip.com (NASDAQ:CTRP) as the growth-stock darling and eLong (NASDAQ:LONG) as the slower value play.

However, investors can also get a little global sizzle with Priceline. More than $1.2 billion of the $2.1 billion in gross travel bookings made by Priceline during the second quarter were international.

So go ahead and let Mr. Market delay Priceline's flight today. It still knows where the runways are, giving investors an attractive entry point ahead of next quarter's report.

Other ways to fly higher:

Ctrip.com is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation, and Priceline.com is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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.