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Investors Name Their Price on Priceline

Investors fed up with the daily flood of bad news from the financial sector might do well to look at the likes of Priceline.com, which soared to a new 52-week high late Thursday on better than expected results and guidance.

Priceline (NASDAQ: PCLN) rode strength in its Booking.com and Agoda.com international businesses to 34% sales growth to $403.2 million and a 76% increase in bookings in the first quarter. The company's pro forma earnings of 76 cents a share were 16 cents ahead of Wall Street estimates, and Priceline raised its guidance for the rest of the year too.

Domestic U.S. business was also strong. "With economic pressures mounting as we entered 2008, we believe that our money-saving Name Your Own Price services and our value brand positioning made priceline.com attractive to budget-conscious travelers," CEO Jeffery Boyd said in a statement.

Priceline shares were up 13% in after-hours trading to around $140 a share — a stark contrast to Dow component AIG, which fell 8% on yet another multi-billion dollar loss for the financial sector.

Stocks rose during the day on strong discount retail sales from the likes of Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) and Costco (NASDAQ: COST).

Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) edged higher on reports that a deal with Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) is near.

Clearwire (NASDAQ: CLWR) fell on a Citigroup valuation downgrade a day after announcing a WiMax deal with Sprint (NYSE: S).

Orbitz (NYSE: OWW) fell on its results.

The Nasdaq rose 12 to 2451, the S&P gained 5 to 1397, and the Dow rebounded 52 to 12,866. Volume declined to 3.83 billion shares on the NYSE, and 2.1 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led by a 19-13 margin on the NYSE, and 15-13 on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 52% on the NYSE, and 61% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 80-90 on the NYSE, and 46-131 on the Nasdaq.