I had a good feeling about Priceline.com (NASDAQ:PCLN) heading into last night's quarterly report.

"I don't have a problem going out on a limb right now," I wrote four hours before the company's third-quarter report. "Shares of Priceline are trading at nearly a third of their 52-week high and stand at just eight times next year's projected profitability. Before you start thinking Wall Street is overly optimistic, consider that Priceline has blown past analyst profit targets for nine consecutive quarters. That is favorable momentum heading into tonight's report, from a company with an insanely cheap valuation."

Well, last night makes it 10 straight quarters of thumping the pros. Pro forma profits soared 51% to $2.39 a share, well ahead of the $2.10 a share the market was expecting. Revenue clocked in at $561.6 million, 35% higher than last year.

If consumers are traveling less in this climate, it only means that they are turning to Priceline in greater numbers. Gross travel bookings skyrocketed 47% during the period. Good luck finding that kind of spurt elsewhere.

"Yes, it's a difficult environment, but that's everyone's news," Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) Chairman Barry Diller said in announcing last week's quarterly result. Expedia's bookings grew by just 7% during the period. Orbitz Worldwide (NYSE:OWW) reports next week, but it has historically underperformed Expedia and Priceline. Travel-deals publisher Travelzoo (NASDAQ:TZOO) isn't a booking engine, but its 6% dip in quarterly revenue is telling. The industry is struggling, but not if you're Priceline.

Apparently it's not "everyone's news," Diller.

Priceline is growing so quickly that it rivals the high-octane spurts of Chinese leader Ctrip.com (NASDAQ:CTRP).

The real shock is that analysts still don't get it, as the company continues to predictably topple the predictable.

 

EPS

Est.

Difference

Q4 2007

$0.96

$0.84

14.3%

Q1 2008

$0.76

$0.60

26.7%

Q2 2008

$1.55

$1.41

9.9%

Q3 2008

$2.39

$2.10

13.8%

Source: Earnings.com.

Priceline is cautious about the near term, projecting smaller gains. Then again, Wall Street has a habit of chomping at the lowball bait, only to wonder why Priceline has exceeded its expectations again.

Given Priceline's momentum, industry-leading performance, and attractive valuation, it would be nuts to bet against the company right now.

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 newsletters today, 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.