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News > Technology
Expedia beats the Street
July 30, 2001: 4:57 p.m. ET

Online travel service tops earnings estimates by a nickel per share
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Online travel service Expedia Inc. on Monday reported a fiscal fourth-quarter operating profit that exceeded Wall Street's expectations, which executives attributed to solid growth across all the company's businesses.

At the same time, they said they expect the company's operating profit to decline in the current quarter, although it should exceed the Street's most recent forecast.

After the close of trading, Expedia said it earned $15 million, or 25 cents per share, during the quarter ended June 30. That excludes extraordinary charges and compares with an operating loss of $13.1 million, or 30 cents per share, during the same period a year ago.

Analysts generally had expected the company to post an operating profit of 20 cents per share, according to a survey conducted by earnings tracker First Call.

Accounting for non-cash stock-option expenses and other one-time items,  Expedia reported a fiscal fourth-quarter net loss of $4.4 million, or 9 cents per share, compared with a net loss of $42.4 million, or 98 cents per share, during the same quarter last year.

At $43.9 million, Expedia's fiscal fourth-quarter revenue more than doubled from the $20.9 million it reported during the same quarter a year ago.

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Shares of Expedia (EXPE: down $1.85 to $48.14, Research, Estimates) fell $1.85 to $48.14 in Nasdaq trade ahead of the earnings news. They rose $1.11 to $49.25 in extended-hours trade.

The company posted growth in each of its revenue areas. Executives said growth was especially strong in the company's packages and merchant lodging business.

"During the quarter, consumers turned to the Internet to find lower rates and better package deals that would keep their vacation plans and business travel plans intact in spite of a weakening economy," Richard Barton, president and CEO of Expedia, said in a statement.

"When business gets softer for our supplier partners, they turn to those distributors who can deliver the most customers in the most cost-effective manner," Barton said "Our ability to do so has been a triple win for our suppliers, our customers and our business."

During the quarter, Expedia's merchant revenue rose 63.7 percent to $25.9 million from $9.4 million. At the same time, agency revenue rose 52.4 percent to $43.9 million from $20.9 million last year.

Revenue from online advertising and other items rose 23 percent to $8.7 million from $6.7 million.

The most recent quarter market the second consecutive period in which the Bellevue, Wash.-based company logged black ink on its bottom line, a trend it expects to continue in the current quarter.

The company said it now expects to report fiscal first-quarter operating earnings ranging between $10 million and $12 million. It did not provide a corresponding per-share estimate, but did say it expects the number of shares to increase to approximately 64 million.

That would put per-share earnings in a range roughly between 15 cents and 18 cents. The most recent consensus estimate of analysts is for Expedia to log an operating profit of 14 cents per share in the fiscal-first quarter.

Earlier this month, USA Networks agreed to buy Microsoft's controlling interest in Expedia for as much as $1.5 billion in stock. graphic

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