Priceline's 3Q profit vaults 40 pct as travel bookings, ad sales grow; names new CEO

NORWALK, Conn. – Priceline Group is promoting one of its executives to CEO, taking over from Jeffery Boyd.

Boyd, who has been CEO since 2002, will remain the travel website’s chairman.

Priceline said Thursday that Darren Huston, 47, will take over as CEO and president and join the board on Jan. 1. He’s currently head of hotel reservation service, a unit of Priceline. The company also operates its namesake site, travel search service kayak, and Asia-based hotel reservation service

The Norwalk, Conn., company said that its profit rose 40 per cent in the third quarter to $833 million, or $15.72 per share, as bookings for flights, rental cars and hotels rose and ad sales increased. Profit came to $596.6 million, or $11.66 per share, in last year’s July-September quarter.

Excluding the impact of stock-based pay and one-time items, Priceline’s earnings amounted to $17.30 per share for the latest quarter. Revenue rose 33 per cent to $2.27 billion. Analysts polled by FactSet expected $16.22 per share on revenue of $2.21 billion.

The value of hotels, airfare and other bookings customers made through Priceline’s websites rose 38 per cent to $10.8 billion.

Growth was strong during the summer travel season, Boyd said in a statement.

For the current quarter, Priceline expects profit, excluding one-time items, of $7.80 to $8.30 per share, below analysts’ average estimate of $8.33 per share.

Shares fell $11.89, or 1.1 per cent, to $1,011 in after-hours trading. The stock closed down 3.3 per cent to $1,022.89 in regular trading Thursday, up 65 per cent this year.