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Priceline.com's Quarterly Profit Doubles, Shares Soar

Online U.S. travel agency Priceline.com said on Tuesday its quarterly profit more than doubled on a surge in travel bookings, beating expectations and sending its shares up 10% in after-hours trading.

The company said its second-quarter net profit rose to $34.6 million, or 79 cents a share, from $12.5 million, or 28 cents a share, a year earlier.

Priceline's income excluding special items was $47.3 million, or $1.11 per diluted share, for the quarter. On that basis, Wall Street analysts had expected the company to earn 90 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

The company said its travel bookings increased by 33% overall to $1.2 billion. Its bookings for international travel increased by 93%.

Revenue totaled $355.9 million, an increase of 15.7% over the comparable quarter in 2006.

"Based on the strength we have seen in our international and domestic businesses as the summer unfolds, we are increasing our guidance for the balance of the year," said Priceline Chief Executive Jeffery Boyd, in prepared a statement.

The online travel business has been booming in recent years, but as growth in domestic bookings plateaus, companies like Priceline are looking to Europe and Asia for growth opportunities.

Priceline increased its forecasted growth for travel bookings in the third quarter to 43% to 46%. The company predicted net income of $1.21 to $1.31 a share.

Priceline said it expects its travel bookings to total $4.50 billion to $4.65 billion for 2007.

The company said it expects net income between $3.50 and $3.65 per share for the year.

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