* 3rd-qtr adjusted profit $17.30/shr vs estimate $16.15
* CEO of Booking.com unit to lead company
Nov 7 (Reuters) - Priceline.com, the online travel agency known for its name-your-own price auction, posted a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Thursday as bookings increased.
The company also said that Darren Huston, chief executive of its biggest unit Booking.com B.V., would become president and CEO of Priceline.com on Jan. 1. Current Priceline CEO Jeffery Boyd will stay on as chairman of the board, Priceline said.
"We feel like we're gaining share in major distribution channels and performing very well in that environment," Boyd said in an interview.
Bookings, the value of all travel services purchased, rose nearly 38 percent to $10.8 billion.
Boyd said the travel research channel was getting more competitive.
"Companies like Trivago, TripAdvisor and our business Kayak are starting to get more active advertising on television both here in the United States and overseas," he said.
Net income was nearly $833 million, or $15.72 a diluted share, in the third quarter, compared with $596.6 million, or $11.66 a share, a year earlier.
Adjusted for special items, third-quarter profit was $17.30 a share, compared with $16.15 expected by analysts on average, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Advertising spending tied to Booking.com television ads in the United States as well as other campaigns and an expected Dutch payroll tax were expected to pressure fourth-quarter results, the company said.
Priceline forecast profit of $7.80 to $8.30 a share for the current quarter. Analysts, on average, expect $8.27 a share.
Shares of the company were up about 1 percent in after-hours trade following its earnings announcement.