International sales boost for Priceline, flat bats Rocketmiles speculation

International sales boost for Priceline, flat bats Rocketmiles speculation

Increased international bookings helped Priceline Group overcome volatile foreign-exchange rates in the fourth quarter of 2014.

The largest US OTA saw its gross profit for the three months rise by 26% year-on-year to $1.7 billion as bookings increased by 17% to $10.7 billion.

International operations contributed gross profit of $1.43 billion, a 24% increase.

The group’s gross travel bookings for the full year were up by 28% to $50.3 billion, or 30% on a local currency basis.

This resulted in a group gross profit rising by 33% to $7.6 billion. International operations contributed full-year gross profit of $6.64 billion, up by 32%.

Darren Huston, chief executive of the group which includes Booking.com and Kayak, said: “The Priceline Group finished 2014 with a strong fourth quarter, reporting solid hotel and rental car unit growth

“International gross bookings growth of 27% on a local currency basis in the fourth quarter demonstrates the resilience of the business, despite an environment of economic uncertainty and foreign exchange volatility.

“The group’s full year room night reservations of 346 million grew by 28%, leading to gross bookings for the group of just over $50 billion.”

Looking forward, Huston said: “The group’s brands are starting 2015 with strong momentum. We are investing in our brands to organically grow our core business for the long-term.

“We also continue to invest in OpenTable and our BookingSuite branded hotel marketing services. These investments have a more pronounced impact on profitability in our seasonally low first quarter, but are the right investments to plant seeds for future growth.”

He told Bloomberg: “When currencies move, it changes behaviour, but for every dark spot, there’s a bright spot. So for Americans, if you haven’t gone to Europe or Japan, now’s a great time.”

Huston declined to comment on a Wall Street Journal report that Priceline was in talks to buy hotel and travel booking start-up Rocketmiles.

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