Priceline Group CEO Darren Huston discussed Expedia Inc.’s deal to acquire Orbitz while touting Priceline’s expansion strategy, during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call on Thursday.

Expedia last week agreed to buy Orbitz Worldwide, and acquired Travelocity in late January. 

“I don’t see the deal that Expedia’s made, if it passes, as being a negative for our group,” he said. “For us, it’s all upside. We’re just staying focused on what we do well, and I’m sure Expedia is doing the same.”

Posturing or not, Huston welcomed Expedia’s consolidation of the OTA space.

“If you add all of our businesses and Expedia’s businesses together, it’s still less than 10% of the total opportunity space,” he said. “If anything, it consolidates, clarifies competition. There’s still plenty of room to grow.”

Huston described Priceline’s growth strategy as “focused on buying premium and winning brands that either add new geographies, business verticals or competencies.”

Huston mentioned travel search site Kayak, which Priceline acquired for $1.8 billion in 2013, and restaurant reservations service OpenTable, which Priceline bought out for $2.6 billion last year.

“Kayak delivered an outstanding first full year and significantly exceeded our expectations,” Huston said. “OpenTable remains very busy laying the groundwork for its cloud-based platforming. Our vision for OpenTable is expansive."

Huston made his comments after Priceline announced that its fourth-quarter profit jumped 20% from a year earlier, benefiting from growth in its overseas businesses and increased hotel bookings.

Net income increased to $451.8 million from $378.1 million a year earlier. Gross travel bookings rose 17%, to $10.7 billion, as overseas bookings jumped 27% while hotel room-night growth was 24%.

Priceline’s shares were up about 7% Thursday after the company reported that revenue increased 19%, to $1.84 billion, which beat the $1.8 billion average analyst estimate in a Thomson Reuters survey. Priceline’s earnings also beat estimates. 

The company announced a share buyback program worth as much as $3 billion, or about 5% of the company’s market value.

Priceline overtook Expedia in 2010 to become the world’s largest OTA by bookings, though Expedia would reclaim that title with the addition of Orbitz.


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