Booking revenue more than doubles as it sees travel trends improving

Despite the omicron variant’s effects on travel at the the end of the fourth quarter, Booking Holdings Inc. said Wednesday that its business still did better than it expected.

“We delivered revenue and adjusted Ebitda results that were better than our expectations for the quarter,” said Glenn Fogel, chief executive of Booking
in a statement. He added that the company has seen a “meaningful improvement” in bookings so far in the first quarter, echoing what its competitors, like Expedia Group Inc.
have reported.

David Goulden, the company’s chief financial officer, said on the earnings call that he is encouraged by booking trends so far in the first quarter, and that room nights booked in the first half of February were about in line with 2019 levels.

Goulden added, though, that “we do expect continued volatility” because of possible continuing effects of COVID-19 as well as geopolitical concerns, namely Russia’s pending invasion of Ukraine. He did note that Russia and Ukraine represent a “very low, single-digit percentage” of the company’s gross bookings.

The travel-booking company, whose brands include Priceline, Kayak and, said gross travel bookings for the quarter were $19.01 billion, an increase of 160% from the year-ago quarter, while room nights booked just about doubled to 151 million. Those numbers fell slightly short of what analysts had expected, which were $19.05 billion in bookings and 167 million hotel-room nights.

But the company’s fourth-quarter revenue more than doubled to $2.98 billion from $1.24 billion in the year-ago quarter, beating analysts’ expectations.

After rising as much as 2.5%, Booking’s stock ended the after-hours trading session down more than 5%, after falling about 1.9% in the regular session to close at $2,469.83.

The company reported fourth-quarter net income of $618 million, or $14.94 a share, compared with a loss of $165 million, or $4.02 a share, in the year-ago period. Adjusted for foreign-currency transaction costs, investment losses and other costs, earnings were $15.83 a share.

Analysts surveyed by FactSet had forecast earnings of $13.30 a share on revenue of $2.85 billion.

For the full year, Booking reported net income of $1.17 billion, or $28.17 a share, compared with $59 million, or $1.45 a share, in the previous year. Revenue rose to $10.96 billion compared with $6.8 billion in 2020. Analysts had expected earnings of $25.39 a share on revenue of $10.84 billion.

Goulden said he expected 2022 full-year bookings to exceed 2021 levels, but to be lower than what they were in 2019.

Shares of Booking have risen about 3.5% year to date, while the S&P 500 Index
has declined almost 11% so far this year.

See: Expedia optimistic about travel recovery, boosting stock despite mixed results