What: Shares of Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE) took off last month, climbing 11%, according to data from S&P Capital IQ, as the stock was pushed higher by a strong earnings report. 

EXPE Chart

EXPE data by YCharts.

So what: As you can see from the chart above, Expedia shares soared on July 31, gaining 13% in that session to close out the month. The online travel specialist posted earnings per share of $0.89, above estimates of $0.85, while revenue improved 11%, or 15% on an adjusted basis, to $1.66 billion, edging out expectations of $1.65 billion. Its hotels segment, led by hotels.com, continued to be an especially strong business for Expedia as room night sales improved 35% from the quarter a year ago and reached 50% growth internationally. Its advertising and media business was also strong, contributing 27% growth.  

Expedia has now become the leader in online travel bookings, a testament to its portfolio of brands including Hotwire and Trivago, and it's also in the consolidation game, with its acquisition of Travelocity and the pending merger with Orbtiz. As it's grown, it's become more of a challenger to the more-valuable-by-market-cap priceline.com.  

Now what: Shares of Expedia hit an all-time high on the report, marking the resurgence of the online travel industry as unemployment and gas prices have come down, and the success of the company's own strategy. The stock is now up more than seven times from its recession-era lows as its power plays for competitors like Travelocity and Orbitz have provided increased growth and relieved margin pressure in what was once a crowded industry. 

Its merger with Orbitz has not yet received full approval from the Justice Department, but management expects approval in the second half of the year. Orbitz and its partner site cheaptickets.com get nearly 10 million unique visitors a month, close to a third of Expedia's traffic.  

While sites like Airbnb continue to pose a threat to Expedia and its ilk, they have not yet thrown its growth off track, and Expedia's room nights growth shows the power of its hotel business. If the Orbitz merger is approved, I'd expect Expedia shares to move even higher.

 

Jeremy Bowman has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Priceline Group. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.