Expedia revenue falls 15% as travel is decimated by coronavirus pandemic

Key Points
  • Expedia reported its first quarter 2020 earnings after the bell on Wednesday, showing a 15% fall in revenue as coronavirus pandemic has battered the travel industry.
  • Executives they've seen some growth in recent weeks, but off a very small base.
  • Expedia executives also said on the call that they plan new marketing initiatives to reduce their reliance on Google ads.

In this article

Visitors browse at the display of Expedia during the International Tourism Trade Fair in Berlin.
Fabrizio Bensch | Retuers

Expedia reported its first quarter earnings after the bell on Wednesday, continuing to show the financial devastation the coronavirus is having on the travel industry.  

Executives said during the company's earnings call that Expedia was seeing slight recovery and some greenshoots in May, but was still far from normal. Shares initially dropped on when the report was released, before gaining more than 4.5% in after-hours trading.

Here's what the company reported:

  • Loss of $1.83 per share
  • Revenue: $2.21 billion

The company's Q1 revenue decreased 15% year over year, Expedia reported. Expedia's adjusted net loss was $285 million for the quarter, up 545% year over year. 

Expedia's lodging revenue decreased 10% in its first quarter, on a 14% decrease in room nights stayed, which it said was partly offset by a 5% increase in revenue per room night. Air revenue dropped 56%, which Expedia said was driven by a 41% decrease in revenue per ticket and a 26% decline in air tickets sold. Expedia also noted that advertising and media revenue decreased 23% in Q1. 

"In January, gross bookings growth was positive, as COVID-19 modestly impacted results, with the virus largely limited to the Asia Pacific region," the company wrote.

"In February, gross bookings declined year over year as the virus spread, particularly into Europe by later in the month. During March, with COVID-19 becoming a global pandemic, including significantly impacting North America, our largest region, cancellations exceeded new bookings, and total gross bookings were negative for the month."

Wall Street had anticipated a loss per share of $1.23 on revenue of $2.20 billion, based on Refinitiv consensus estimates. However, it's difficult to compare reported earnings with analyst estimates for Expedia's first quarter, as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to hit global economies and makes earnings impact difficult to assess.

Travel has dramatically slowed across the globe as governments ask people to stay at home to slow the spread of the virus. Expedia last month announced it was raising $3.2 billion in new capital to strengthen its financial flexibility and liquidity positions amid the pandemic.

"I think we learned a lot and we will be in much better shape in the future," CEO Peter Kern said.

Kern also brought up the company's reliance on performance marketing during its earnings call. Before the pandemic, Expedia had warned of the impacts from weakened visibility in Google search results.

Changes in the Google's search algorithm lessened its visibility on search results, causing a heavier reliance on paid advertising. Expedia and its peers, like Booking Holdings, spend heavily on Google, since so many travelers search for trips with terms like "flight to London" or "hotel in San Francisco."

"We've not been disciplined about it," he said. "We've chased unhealthy growth over the years, and Google and other performance marketing channels have tried to disintermediate us, and we've made some not terribly smart choices along the way."

Company executives said it was seeing week-by-week improvement throughout all of its sectors, but declined to give specific numbers. 

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