Priceline Soars On Institutional Stock Deal

Priceline.com stock was soaring Wednesday after Hong Kong
companies Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd. and Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. agreed to buy
more than 25 million shares from the e-commerce company’s founder, Jay S.
Walker and his trust.


The company’s stock was also sent skyward by a report from analysts at
Goldman Sachs, which raised priceline.com’s second quarter revenue and earnings per share
estimates to $315 million and 3 cents a share. The previous estimate was
about $305 million and two cents a share.


The stock bounced up 69 cents or about 12 percent in the first minutes of
trading, to $6.14. It later hit $6.59, up $1.14.


Last February, CKH and Hutchison purchased approximately 23.8 million shares of the
name-your-own-price retail business from priceline.com and an additional 11.3
million shares of priceline.com stock from Walker, who is no longer with the
company.


Hutchison is an international conglomerate with a market capitalization of
$46 billion. Its holdings include telecommunication properties, shipping
assets and resort hotels. Cheung Kong is the largest real estate holder in
Hong Kong, and along with Hutchison is owned by Li Ka Shing, said to be the
richest man in Hong Kong.


Hutchison already has joined with priceline.com in an alliance to bring the
company’s e-commerce business model to 2.6 billion consumers in Asia.


As a result of both stock transactions, CKH and Hutchison each hold about 15
percent of priceline.com. Separately, Hutchison also owns approximately 65
percent of Hutchison-Priceline Limited (HPL), the Asia venture.


CKH and Hutchison will receive a total of two additional seats on
priceline.com’s board. Hutchison already has one seat.


“Priceline.com becomes an even stronger company through this transaction,
because it enables us to broaden our relationship with strategic partners who
have existing strengths in industries and technologies important to
priceline.com’s future growth,” said priceline.com Chairman Richard S.
Braddock. “Priceline, Cheung Kong and Hutchison share a vision and commitment
to the success of priceline.com’s business model on a global scale.”


Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs said it raised its estimated for several reasons,
including favorable industry dynamics, continued progress on the turnaround,
and “a clear signal of
management’s confidence given the recent purchase of 50,000 shares by Bob
Mylod,
the CFO.”


“We maintain our view that led to our upgrade of PCLN on May 1 from market
perform to market outperform that the worst is behind the company. PCLN has
right-sized
the business by focusing on travel, improving customer service and has
installed financial disciplines,” GS told its clients in an advisory.

News Around the Web