Those fearing that Expedia (EXPE) lost its guardian angel with the departure of CEO Dara Khosrowshahi to Uber will be feeling vindicated this morning.
Shares in the online travel services company are being marked down sharply Friday after a bleak earnings report that fell short of consensus forecasts and led the company to cut its own forecast for earnings this year. The company’s top managers also told analysts in a conference call late Thursday that 2018 would be difficult too, due not least to spending on Cloud-based infrastructure and services, along with marketing efforts.
The company said hurricanes and a poor performance by its Trivago hotel-search website would mean that this year’s basic operating profit (before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) would now be up less than 10% from last year. It had previously forecast a rise of up to 15%.
“After recording strong second-quarter results, Expedia reversed course in the third-quarter, missing on every single metric, including a 4 percent room-night shortfall versus expectations,” Benchmark Company analyst Daniel Kurnos said. “It may take some time … to regain its momentum.”
The company did not provide a detailed 2018 forecast, but said its expectations for Trivago were now “significantly lower than they otherwise would have been,” after a quarter in which advertizers were put off by changes to its pricing policy (it also spent heavily on a duff advertising campaign of its own). Trivago had a basic operating loss of $8 million operating loss in the quarter.
Several analysts said competitor Priceline (PCLN) may be the chief beneficiary of Expedia losing its way.
“We believe Expedia and Trivago are facing more company-specific issues, and given Expedia’s comments around a strong macro lodging environment, we think impact to Priceline should be limited,” said JPMorgan Securities analyst Doug Anmuth.