Legendary stock picker Peter Lynch used to salivate over what he called 10-baggers -- stocks that increased 1,000%.
Admittedly, that's incredible performance, but nothing compared to the track record of Priceline.com (PCLN), one of the largest online travel booking websites. Over the past 10 years, this dot-com gem has rallied more than 9,000%. That's a 90-bagger!
Shares have skyrocketed, from split-adjusted lows near $10 in 2003 to their current multi-year high above $914. While the biggest gains may or may not be behind it, short-term traders can still profit.
Because of a growing appetite for travel based on the improving economy, Morgan Stanley has set a price target of $1,010. Technically the stock could go much higher with a long-term target near $2,000 if you're an investor rather than a trader.
Priceline's expanded presence in international markets is in part responsible for the company's growth. While U.S. bookings accounted for 45% of gross bookings in 2007, that declined to just 18% in 2012. Priceline's European travel booking site, Booking.com, is growing rapidly. In October 2007, it offered travelers an option of 53,000 hotels in 53 countries. The site has exploded since then with a network of 295,000 hotels in 180 countries.
The technicals certainly paint a bullish picture.
Shortly after the stock went public in 1999, shares peaked at an all-time high near $975. However, by 2003, they plummeted to the $10 range. For many years, they hovered below $30 resistance -- a level PCLN didn't convincingly penetrate until 2008.
In 2008, shares began gaining steam. A major uptrend line was established, and this five-year-plus trendline is still in force.
As the three-year chart view shows, the stock rocketed higher from its mid-July 2010 low near $200 to a high of $774.96 by April 2012. Unable to maintain this peak, shares fell to an August 2012 low of $553.42. Important support was established when the $553 level held a few months later.
Since the summer of 2012, the stock has moved steadily higher. In early May 2013, the shares successfully broke $774.96 resistance, and in doing so, completed a long-term basing pattern. The top of the base is marked by $774.96 resistance (which now acts as support) and the bottom is at previous support around $553.
According to the measuring principle for a basing pattern, calculated by adding the height of the pattern to the breakout level, shares should reach a minimum target of $996.50 ($774.96-$553.42 = $221.54; $221.54+$774.96 = $996.50). However, with no historical resistance in sight, the stock could surpass the $1,000 mark, reaching or exceeding Morgan Stanley's $1,010 price target.
If the stock did hit $1,000, it would not only reach a new all-time high, it would also complete a major basing pattern formed over the stock's 14-year trading history. This large-scale pattern is marked by ultimate resistance at the 1999 $975 high and support near the $30 2008 breakout level.
If the total basing pattern is used, the measuring principle calculates the stock could potentially reach an ultimate price target of $1,920 ($975-$30 = $945; $945+$975 = $1,920). That's more than double the current trading price!
This highly bullish technical outlook is supported by favorable fundamentals. For the upcoming second quarter, scheduled to be reported on Aug. 5, analysts expect revenue to rise 24% to $1.65 billion from $1.33 billion in the comparable year-earlier quarter.
Due to an improving global economy leading to more travel, analysts expect full-year 2013 revenue to jump 27% to $6.67 billion from $5.26 billion last year.
The earnings outlook is similarly bright. For the upcoming second quarter, analysts project earnings will increase 19% to $9.35 per share from $7.85 in the same quarter last year. As a result of higher bookings, analysts expect full-year 2013 earnings will surge 24% to $38.70 per share from $31.28 in 2012.
Clearly the stock is not cheap with a trailing P/E of more than 31. Still, companies with this kind of growth outlook command and receive premium valuations.
Given the promising technical and fundamental outlook, I plan to go long the online travel booking company. As a short-term trader, I'm going to target a gain of about 10%. Longer term traders might want to hold on for more substantial returns.
Risks to consider: Projections of the stock breaking the $1,000 mark are fueled by expectations of increased consumer travel spurred by a global economic recovery. If the worldwide economy weakens -- especially in Europe where Priceline is seeing strong growth -- the stock may not meet growth expectations. However, Priceline has grown even in previous weak economic environments like the 2008 to 2009 recession and should continue to do so in the future.
Recommended Trade Setup:
-- Buy PCLN at the market price
-- Set stop-loss at $831.93, below a shelf of current support
-- Set initial price target at $996.50 for a potential 8% gain