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