Bookings up at online travel companies

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Orbitz Worldwide said last week that its gross bookings grew by 41% in the second quarter, and it saw losses drop dramatically compared with Q2 2007.

Steve Barnhart, CEO of Orbitz, told investors during an earnings call that the company was pleased with its adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, which amounted to $37 million for the quarter.

Meanwhile, competitor Priceline last week reported continued, sustained growth for Q2, with overall gross bookings increasing 70.9% compared with Q2 2007.

Jeffery Boyd, CEO of Norwalk, Conn.-based Priceline, said the performance came in spite of a softening travel market and other economic uncertainties, with the strongest results coming from international revenues.

Expedia exceeded expectations of analysts in its adjusted results, despite a difficult travel market, after bookings increased overall by some 16%. European bookings rose 30%, and domestic bookings increased by 10%, with bookings totaling some $5.93 billion, the company said.

Profits remained static in Q2; net income was virtually unchanged at $96.1 million.

Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said the company's international business and new emphasis on advertising contributed to maintaining net income in the quarter.

"One area I'm particularly enthusiastic about is the diversification in our business mix," Khosrowshahi told analysts and investors. "Advertising and international businesses now deliver over 40% of worldwide revenues, a big shift from 25% just three short years ago."

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