Priceline earnings: $35.22 per share vs. $34.25 expected

Key Points
  • Priceline shares fell after hours Monday after the company reported disappointing fourth-quarter guidance.
  • The guidance overshadowed positive numbers for the third quarter.
Priceline issues weak Q4 earnings guidance

Shares of The Priceline Group fell after hours Monday after the company reported disappointing fourth-quarter guidance that overshadowed positive third-quarter results.

Here's how the company did compared with what Wall Street expected:

  • EPS: $35.22 per share vs. $34.25 expected by analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.
  • Revenue: $4.43 billion vs. $4.34 billion expected in the Thomson Reuters survey.
  • Gross bookings: $21.8 billion vs. $21.45 billion expected, according to StreetAccount's consensus

Shares of the company fell more than 9 percent after hours.

Priceline projected growth in room nights booked of between 8 percent and 13 percent in the fourth quarter, compared with estimates of 15 percent. For the fourth quarter of 2016, room nights booked grew 31 percent year over year.

Room night bookings and rental car days both grew slower year over year in the third quarter of 2017 compared with the year-ago quarter.

The company has seen strong growth, fueled by its business overseas. Priceline has said that it expects that trend to continue as more travelers outside the U.S. embrace online travel booking.

The company is eyeing opportunities in China in particular. Last month, the company announced a $450 million investment in Chinese mobile internet company Meituan-Dianping.

CEO Glenn Fogel has said that China is the company's most important market. On a conference call with investors following the earnings release, however, he said it was a very competitive market.

"We have to continue to be mindful that if we don't give the best price, we may not get the booking," Fogel said.

While Priceline continues to experience strong growth, the online travel market is becoming crowded. Google's travel business is encroaching, and is possibly even larger than Priceline, according to the research firm Skift.

Priceline has cited Google's "Book on Google" reservation functionality, as well as its Flights and Hotels features, as possible risks to its business. Though Google Flights launched more than five years ago, Google appears to be getting increasingly serious about the service.

Fogel acknowledged competition on Monday for instantly bookable vacation rentals offered by companies such as Airbnb.

"I'm not naive; I recognize we are not the leader in this space right now," he said. "There is a competitor who is a little bit bigger and doing a little bit better I suspect in this area than we are. And that's why we are going to invest money," he said.

Shares of competitor Expedia nosedived in October after the company reported weak booking numbers that it attributed to hurricanes and struggles with hotel price comparison site Trivago.

Priceline shares had surged nearly 30 percent so far this year. They were up almost 20 percent year-to-date following Monday's slip.