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UPDATE 1-Priceline forecasts profit below estimates as expenses rise

(Adds forecast, CEO comment, shares)

Aug 11 (Reuters) - Online travel agency Priceline Group Inc forecast third-quarter earnings below analysts' estimates, mainly due to heavy spending on its international expansion.

Shares of the operator of Priceline.com, Booking.com and Kayak.com fell 2.5 percent before the bell.

The company's operating expenses rose nearly 39 percent to $1.15 billion in the second quarter ended June 30. (http://bit.ly/1q4NVUe)

"We will continue to build our franchise by investing in customer experience, content expansion and market penetration," Chief Executive Darren Huston said in a statement.

Priceline has been expanding in fast-growing markets such as Asia. The company said last week that it would invest $500 million in China's Ctrip.com International to give customers access to more than 100,000 places to stay in the Greater China region.

Priceline forecast an adjusted profit of $19.60-$21.10 per share for the third quarter ending September. Analysts were expecting $21.28 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Priceline's net profit rose about 32 percent in the second quarter as hotel and airline gross bookings increased 34 percent.

International bookings rose by more than a third in the quarter, accounting for 86 percent of total bookings.

Net profit available to common shareholders rose to $576.5 million, or $10.89 per share, from $437.3 million, or $8.39 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, Priceline earned $12.51 per share.

Revenue rose 26 percent to $2.l2 billion.

Priceline's shares closed at $1,281.56 on the Nasdaq on Friday.

(Reporting by Abinaya Vijayaraghavan in Bangalore; Editing by Kirti Pandey)