Trading Nation

Airbnb vs. Expedia: Two traders debate which is the better travel rebound bet

Trading Nation: Two traders debate impact of increased vaccination rates on hotel and vacation rentals
Trading Nation: Two traders debate impact of increased vaccination rates on hotel and vacation rentals

Travel demand appears to be roaring back.

Online bookings sites Booking Holdings, Expedia and Airbnb all reported better-than-expected quarterly results buoyed by increased travel activity over their recent quarters. Booking posted a 77% increase in gross bookings, while Airbnb recorded a 280% in net income. Expedia said its own above-consensus results were tied to high demand in its home-rental segment VRBO and increased domestic travel.

CNBC's "Trading Nation" asked its traders which stock they back right now.

"I do prefer Expedia as a trade," said Jeff Kilburg, chief investment officer at Sanctuary Wealth, on Thursday before the earnings release. "You're booking hotels, you're booking cars, you're booking airfare, I'm a user myself… I think we're optimistic about the whole space but specifically Expedia has got the opportunity to move higher as we see demand come back."

Kilburg says a move above $163 would make him even more constructive on the name. This is his buy target level. It traded Thursday near $158.

In a follow-up email to CNBC, Kilburg said, "Pent-up demand in the travel marketplace translated into a big beat for Expedia. This is about as optimistic of an earnings report this bull could have hoped for."

JC O'Hara, chief market technician at MKM Partners, is betting on Airbnb instead.

"This is the fourth quarterly report that we will receive from the company so we finally have enough fundamental data to spot earning trends. The company IPO'd roughly a year ago so we finally have enough pricing data to spot technical trends," he said during the same interview.

He highlights $130 as a key technical level, one he says "has been defended by the bulls time and time again."

Over the past several months, though, the stock has been stuck in a sideways consolidation pattern, he says. If it can break out of that range, O'Hara targets a move back to $200. It traded Thursday at $178.