Expedia, Inc. (NASDAQ:EXPE) is perfectly positioned to capture the surge in travel that is expected in 2015 as consumers have more money in their pockets thanks to lower gasoline prices. This Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) is expected to produce double digit earnings growth in 2014 and 2015.
Expedia is one of the most recognizable online travel companies. It now has an extensive list of brands including Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Hotwire, Egencia, Venere.com, trivago, CarRentals.com, Expedia CruiseShipCenters and eLong, the second largest online travel company in China.
Expanding Through Acquisitions
On Nov 14, Expedia announced that it had completed the acquisition of Australian-based Wotif Group for $652 million in cash.
Wotif operates travel websites in the rapidly expanding Asia-Pacific region including Wotif.com, lastminute.com.au, travel.com.au, LateStays.com, GoDo.Com.au and Arnold Travel Technology. It focuses mainly on hotel and air with 29,000 bookable properties worldwide.
The Asia-Pacific region is shaping up to be a key battleground among travel companies due to the expanding middle class in China and India and the belief that the demand for travel to and from that region will be growing more quickly than some other parts of the world.
Another Beat in the Third Quarter of 2014
On Oct 30, Expedia reported third quarter results and beat the Zacks Consensus by 21 cents, or 13%. Earnings were $1.83 compared to the Zacks Consensus of $1.62.
Expedia has put together quite a string of beats. It hasn’t missed on the Zacks Consensus since 2013.
Revenue soared 22% to $1.7 billion from $1.4 billion a year ago primarily due to strong hotel room night and air ticket growth. Room nights jumped 24% year-over-year due to strong performance at the Expedia and Hotels.com brands. The gain was evenly split between both domestic and international growth. Gross bookings gained 29%, also driven by room night and air ticket growth.
Big Earnings Growth
The analysts have slowly been raising estimates throughout the year.
Earnings are expected to rise 44% in 2014 to $3.58 from $2.49 in 2013. Analysts are still bullish about 2015. They expect to see another 17% earnings growth. The Zacks Consensus is looking for $4.19 in 2015.
Expedia is tentatively scheduled to report fourth quarter results on Feb 5, 2015 so we’ll find out then just how strong 2014 was.
Opportunity in the Shares?
Expedia shares got slammed in the October stock market sell-off. They have come back but are still trading in the same narrow trading range they’ve been in over the past 6 months.
Expedia trades with a forward P/E of 20 which is near its median of 19.4 over the last 10 years. So it’s not cheap, on a historic basis, but neither is it expensive. However, current economic conditions, with falling gasoline prices, favor the travel industry in 2015. Consumers are expected to put their new found cash into other things, especially travel.
If you’re looking for a travel name with solid fundamentals and growth prospects, you would be wise to keep Expedia on your list.