A Little Traveling Music, Please

Online travel operation Expedia Inc. posted record revenues of $82 million
and real earnings of 8 cents per fully diluted share for the quarter ending
Dec. 31, compared with a year-ago net loss of $25 million, or 53 cents per
share.


Expedia said its net income excluding costs such as
merger expenses rose to $19 million, or 31 cents a share, compared to a loss
of $2.6 million or 6 cents a share a year earlier.


The Bellevue, Wash.-based company, reporting in after the bell rang on a
Monday that saw all travel stocks get a boost, said that for the six months
ended Dec. 31, net revenue came in at $161 million, compared with $87 million
a year ago.


Net income for the six months was about $500,000, or 1 cent per diluted
share.


For the quarter, the net revenue of $82 million represented an increase of 84
percent year-over-year and 3 percent sequentially.


“We accomplished these record results in spite of the travel slowdown caused
by the economy and the events of September 11,” said Gregory S. Stanger,
senior vice president and CFO. “Our results indicate that we have put
together a robust business model and a strong consumer brand that enable us
to weather business cycles.”


Expedia reported $704 million in gross bookings for the quarter ended Dec.
31, 2001.


Even before the earnings report came out, shares of online travel firms,
including Expedia, climbed sharply on Monday after discount travel operator
Hotel Reservations Network reported strong bookings amid
further signs of the sector’s recovery from the events of Sept. 11.


Expedia closed up $4.02 at $51.02; Hotel Reservations itself, a unit of USA
Networks with which Expedia is expected to merge, closed
up $7.99 at $52.25 after reporting that it made 27 cents a share in the
fourth quarter of 2001 before charges, beating forecasts for a 17-cent per
share profit.


Last week Expedia bolstered its vacation line by
acquiring a vacation wholesaler
from Classic Vacation Group Inc. for $52
million in cash and stock.


Expedia shareholders vote next Monday at a reconvened meeting to consider the
proposals that were adjourned from the December meeting regarding the
proposed merger of a wholly owned subsidiary of USA Networks Inc. and
Expedia, with Expedia surviving as a public company controlled by USA. That
deal was delayed
in light of Vivendi Universal’s acquisition of USA
Networks’ entertainment assets


Meanwhile, Fort Worth, Texas-based rival Travelocity.com
teamed with MasterCard International to launch what it called the largest
cruise sale in its history, complete with cash back offers of up to $175 for
consumers.


Cruises include the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Alaska and Europe and
participating cruise lines include Carnival Cruise Lines, Norwegian Cruise
Line, Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Royal
Caribbean International, Holland America and Windstar.


Travelocity stock closed at $26.60, up $3.86. Travelocity earlier
reported pro forma income of 9 cents per share
for its fourth quarter on
gross travel bookings of $630.2 million.


The third publicly traded player in online Travel, Priceline.com
, closed up 52 cents at $6.32. Priceline reports its earnings on
Feb. 4.

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