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Expedia CEO attributes earnings miss to Easter timing; terrorism and Trump didn't help

  • The online travel company reported first-quarter earnings of 5 cents per share, a penny shy of estimates.
  • It did, however, beat expectations with $2.19 billion in revenue.
  • "When you look at the booking volume of the business, it's growing at very, very healthy levels and continues to accelerate," said CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.

Timing was a major factor in Expedia's first-quarter earnings miss, CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told CNBC on Friday.

"The biggest issue there was Easter. ... Last year, Easter was in the first quarter. This year Easter is in the second quarter," he said on Squawk on the Street." "Stays came in lower, but it was purely due to a timing shift. When you look at the booking volume of the business, it's growing at very, very healthy levels and continues to accelerate."

Expedia shares were dropping about 2 percent in midday trading on Friday.

The online travel company reported, after the bell Thursday, first-quarter earnings of 5 cents per share, a penny shy of estimates. It did, however, beat expectations with $2.19 billion in revenue.

Expedia also reported gross bookings, a key metric, were up 14 percent year over year. But its marketing expenses also rose, up 22 percent year over year.

In addition to the Easter timing, Khosrowshahi said terrorism had a somewhat negative impact on travel. "We saw London growth get a little bit weaker after the Westminster tragedy over there, but it seems to be coming back."

The Expedia CEO said there have been "spot disruptions" among some of its partners as a result of President Donald Trump's travel ban, which has been put on hold by the courts.

In fact, "the biggest issue that we see has to do with currency," he said, noting the weaker euro aided the amount of travel from the United States to Europe. "The macro — which is more and more people are traveling, more people are coming online, and more people are using their phone to book travel — that remains a pretty significant tailwind for us."

Khosrowshahi ended Expedia's fourth-quarter earnings call in February by saying, "Hopefully we will all be alive to see the end of next year." The company refused to elaborate at the time.

On Friday, Khosrowshahi spoke about Trump's administration, telling CNBC, "I think 100 days is early, you know. We took action, and we spoke when travel ... [felt] threatened and our travelers were thrown off by the travel ban, so we took a position there." But he added, "We want the U.S. to succeed. We want this president to succeed because he's the leader of our country."

In January, the Iranian-American businessman, who once was a refugee, tweeted a New York Times story about Expedia supporting a lawsuit against the Trump immigration ban.