Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE), one of two major players in the online travel space, released its first quarter 2015 earnings late last week. The results showed impressive growth and a sharp swing into profitability, although the future of a crucial acquisition remains uncertain at the moment. Here is a brief look at how the company flew during the quarter.
Improving where it counts
The raw numbers were encouraging. Expedia posted revenue of $1.37 billion, a 14% year-over-year increase. Attributable net profit was $44 million ($0.34 per share), far better than the $14 million ($0.11 per share) the company lost in the year-ago quarter.
However, on an adjusted basis, stripping out items such as a $105 million gain related to the acquisition of a controlling stake in joint venture AirAsia, the bottom line was in the red at just over $4 million ($0.03 per share). This compared unfavorably to the year-ago profit of $22 million ($0.16 per share).
The revenue figure narrowly beat the average forecast of $1.35 billion, but those analysts were collectively modeling a per share profit of $0.09.
Regardless, the company showed improvements in many crucial areas. Total gross bookings increased by 19% year-over-year to just under $15 billion. Revenue from hotel bookings, which make up about two-thirds of the top line, grew 14%.
Expedia began life in 2005 as an amalgamation of travel assets, and true to its history, it continues to grow through acquisitions. Last quarter, the top deal was a $280 million purchase of Travelocity. The company had previously been drawing revenue from Travelocity, serving as its technology platform. Now, Travelocity is entirely within its portfolio.
A few months before that deal, Expedia closed a $558 million deal for the Wotif Group in Australia. This is a productive asset -- in the second half of 2013, Wotif posted gross bookings of $471 million and revenue of $60 million.
Out of Orbitz
But the largest deal of all received barely a mention in the quarterly release. That was for Orbitz Worldwide, the rival travel portal Expedia reached a deal to buy for $1.6 billion this past February.
Management remained tight-lipped on that transaction, as the deal is still being scrutinized by the Department of Justice. Not surprising as the combined entity would represent half of an effective duopoly along with fellow travel conglomerate Priceline Group, itself an eager buyer of complimentary assets.
Although its profitability has been wobbly, Orbitz has a good portfolio that includes the self-explanatory CheapTickets.com and asia-hotels.com. It also has an attractive top line, with 2014 revenues coming in at $932 million.
All in all, investors seemed to be happy with first quarter performance. Expedia shares traded up 8% following the release. Fundamentally, the company is performing well and should continue to do so on the back of a generally improving global economy.
However, the future of the Orbitz acquisition is a big question mark -- investors should keep a close eye on any clues from the Department of Justice regarding their ruling.