Analysts: Expedia's turnaround is reason to buy

Expedia's turnaround is reason to buy, analysts say, with growth rates expected to surge

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Expedia shares hit a record high after two analysts put "Buy" ratings on the stock, saying it's in the early stages of a turnaround.

Deutsche Bank analyst Ross Sandler raised his price target to $68 while upgrading the stock, noting the company is "in the middle of a major acceleration" thanks to a recent website and system upgrade. It's a bargain compared to Priceline and could handily beat Wall Street's expectations, he added.

Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Naved Khan said those platform changes should drive better recent and bookings on hotels.com, which Expedia owns. The improvements could triple room night growth, the analyst predicted.

Expedia should also benefit from growth in hotel properties, Khan said, especially in Asia and Europe.

Khan also rates Priceline.com Inc. a "Buy," saying the shares have already factored in lower growth expectations. But Khan believes the company still has a strong core business that will pick up when the global economy starts to improve.

The analyst initiated a "Hold" or "Neutral" rating on online travel site Orbitz Worldwide Inc., saying it will likely continue to be hurt by its exposure to weakness in Europe.

Expedia shares gained $2.62, or 4.6 percent, to $59.71, after earlier rising to an all-time high of $60.29. Priceline added $6.23 to $640, while Orbitz gained a penny to $2.80.

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