Aggressive International Expansion Ahead: Priceline CEO
Despite underwhelming guidance, Priceline.com's international prospects drove the stock higher Friday and overseas expansion will be a key focus of investment for the company, President and CEO Jeffery Boyd told CNBC on Friday.
"We were able to maintain robust international growth in our franchise business, and that's really what drives the franchise moving forward," Boyd told "Squawk on the Street."
"We think we're in a very attractive space and we think we have got the resources and the talent to aggressively expand."
Boyd called Priceline's business model "very lean" and said the company's free cash flows allow it to focus on operational investments, such as in advertising.
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Although international expansion is key to Priceline's business, the company's new TV advertising campaign for its Booking.com brand in the U.S. also posed a valuable opportunity, Boyd said.
"The United States is really a perfect place for this kind of campaign because it's a very large market where you can reach a lot of people," he said. "Ultimately, it's one of the biggest markets we operate in and it's a market where Booking.com is a relatively new entrant and has a lot of running room."
Priceline said Thursday its first-quarter net income increased on improved hotel and international business. However, profit fell short of market expectations and it issued a disappointing forecast.
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Tom White, Internet analyst at Macquarie, sees reason to be bullish on the stock and thinks investors aren't giving the company the credit it deserves.
"The guidance on EBITDA for the second quarter was a little bit disappointing, but overall I came away actually much more optimistic about Priceline's long term growth prospects," said White, who holds a $845 price target with an "outperform" rating on the stock.
Although the market for online bookings is becoming increasingly competitive, White said these factors are not constraining Priceline's ability to push growth. "Priceline continues to take share and continues to show strong growth," he said.
Risks for the company's growth are in emerging markets like Asia and Latin America, White said, while Europe remains strong for the company. The emerging markets may take longer to generate real returns, White said, adding that "it could be a more protracted investment cycle in those areas."
In the company's earnings release, total travel bookings increased more than 36 percent to $9.15 billion.
Net income was $244.3 million, or $4.76 per share, for the quarter compared with $181.8 million or $3.54 per share last year. Priceline earned $5.76 per share on an adjusted basis. Revenue increased to $1.3 billion from $1.04 billion.
Analysts polled by FactSet expected adjusted earnings of $5.27 per share on revenue of $1.27 billion, according to The Associated Press.