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Traders on which travel stock they’re backing as Expedia reports earnings

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How these traders view Airbnb versus Expedia right now

Expedia fell in extended trading Thursday after its quarterly release.

The online travel booking site posted a 67% drop in revenue to $920 million in the three months to December, below analysts' estimates for more than $1 billion. A loss of $2.64 a share was wider than an expected $1.94.

The company blazed into its earnings in comeback mode, though. The stock had rallied 268% from its March low, hitting its highest level since 2017 on Thursday, even with the travel industry still struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But, that performance still pales in comparison to Airbnb. Since going public on Dec. 10, that stock has surged more than 200%. Airbnb's market cap of $130 billion is larger than all the other online travel booking sites including Expedia, Booking and TripAdvisor.

Katie Stockton, founder of Fairlead Strategies, broke down the Airbnb chart for CNBC's "Trading Nation" on Thursday.

"It's in an intermediate-term uptrend already just with history back to December, and with limited price history we don't really have any ways to discern how overbought the stock is, but there are no real signs of upside exhaustion as we come into [Airbnb] earnings," she said.

Airbnb is scheduled to report earnings on Feb. 25 for the first time as a publicly traded company. While Airbnb has benefited from a consumer preference for vacation rentals over hotel chains during the pandemic, it has still suffered from lockdowns – analysts surveyed by FactSet anticipate a net loss of $8.42 a share for its December-ended quarter.

"If you look at Expedia on the other hand, that uptrend still very much has positive momentum across time horizons and I'm not really one to fight that. But what I would say is that the risk reward is not great from a technical perspective," Stockton said.

She highlights a band of support at $135 and resistance at $161, level with its 2017 high. The stock closed at $149.91 on Thursday.

"That creates a bad imbalance between the downside and upside potential here in terms of those levels so I don't think it's very compelling especially with the broader market showing some signs of short-term upside exhaustion," she said.

Expedia's next stock move depends on how well its investments in its vacation rental brand Vrbo have paid off, according to Boris Schlossberg, managing director of FX strategy at BK Asset Management.

"The market is really betting on a very, very specific type of travel which is that when we are released from the pandemic, most of us are going to go either to the beach or to the lake. We're not going to go to the cultural centers, the cities, the museums, the restaurants, the theaters. ... Airbnb excels in urban centers and Vrbo excels much more in vacation spots," Schlossberg said during the same interview.

Expedia generates 11% of its total revenue through Vrbo.

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