Quick -- name the worst commercials on TV? Yes, those Joe Boxerads are hard to beat for pure, spastic bizarreness, and any commercial that mentions "gas with oily discharge" as a side effect surely represents an advertising low. But when it comes to wretched lines and painful acting, Hotels.com
Funny thing is those ads work. The company's namesake URL (Hotels.com owns and operates several travel-related websites) launched in March 2002, and by June, it was among the top 10 most visited travel websites, according to Nielsen/Netratings.
But Hotel.com's strategy of attracting consumers by airing awful commercials couldn't compensate for a still-shaky travel environment. This morning, the company's management lowered its projections for fourth-quarter revenue to $270 million to $271 million, down from a previously projected $283 million to $289 million. Estimated net income was similarly revised. For 2003, it expects $1.25 billion rather than the $1.4 billion projected in October.
The culprit: Average daily rates (ADRs) on rooms increased, but not as much as expected. Also, the company spent more on personnel and advertising (with no noticeable uptick in quality). It cites a possible war with Iraq as a reason to be more cautious about near-term prospects.
But like other online travel sites, Hotels.com had a good 2002. It now expects revenue to come in between $943 million to $944 million for the year, up 71% over 2001's sales. The stock posted an almost 20% gain for the year, though most of that was wiped out by today's slashing.
As Fool Rex Moore (TMF Orangeblood) discusses in Stocks 2003, the online travel industry in general -- and Hotels.com and competitor Expedia
These profitable companies with high-growth revenues are much cheaper after today's industry-wide haircut.