Priceline (NASDAQ:BKNG) has grown at a mind-bending 46% compounded annual rate of return over the past 10 years, turning every $1 invested into $44.75. Many say its best days are behind it, but I have at least two reasons to believe otherwise: vision and management style.
Like a chess master, Priceline CEO Darren Huston is strategically positioning parts of his business. Or is he?
If you think the man who runs the $64 billion online travel agency manages his shop with a strict top-down rule, you'd be wrong. In fact, in a manner reminiscent of how Warren Buffett takes a hands-off approach to the day-to-day management of his underlying businesses, Huston recently said, "I spend most of my time on people and growth. I try to keep my nose out of the operations, even though I can't help myself at times, because of the kind of person I am. But I'm constantly trying to make sure that we're attracting the right talent to the group."
The laissez-faire approach has served Priceline quite well, as revenues, operating margins, and free cash flow margins have marched forward at impressive rates, placing the company as the leader in online travel. And it may not stop there given Priceline's announcement this morning that it will acquire OpenTable (UNKNOWN:UNKNOWN), the world's leading provider of online restaurant reservations. Huston dubbed it as a natural extension for Priceline's online suite of travel-booking franchises, and it's true that dining and travel are two peas in a pod.
Watch the video to learn more about Huston's approach.