HomeAway Buys Glad to Have You App

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U.S. vacation-rental marketplace, HomeAway, Inc. (AWAY), recently announced the acquisition of ‘Glad to Have You’ (GLAD) in an all-cash transaction. The details of the deal remain confidential.

The GLAD mobile app is designed specifically for property managers and homeowners to interact directly with their guests for better management. They can furnish relevant information such as check-in and check-out procedures, door lock codes and WiFi passwords through push notifications ahead of the guests’ arrival. Through the app, the owners and property managers can cater to the guests by providing recommendations and prompt response to their requests.

The app is available on both Apple’s (AAPL) App Store and Google (GOOG) Play. Per the deal, the hospitality app will be integrated into HomeAway’s platform and be managed by the latter’s software vice president Bill Furlong. Keith Landers and Jason Sprenkle, the founders of GLAD, will remain in the capacity of consultants during the transition.

We believe the deal will enhance HomeAway’s competitive position in the vacation-rental industry. The acquisition will provide better hospitality to HomeAway users and thereby attract new customers, going forward.

The company is investing in international markets to capitalize on the higher growth potential. In Dec 2012, HomeAway acquired Australia-based Stayz Group for $198 million. HomeAway broadened its footprint in the Asia-Pacific market with the Nov 2012 acquisition of the New Zealand-based vacation rental site, Bookabach. In last July, the company acquired Asian vacation rental start-up — Travelmob — and invested in the China vacation rental player — Tujia.

Moreover, HomeAway has been trying to improve its vacation rental portfolio through important alliances. In Nov 2012, the company expanded its distribution partnership with Interhome AG to add vacation rental properties to its network through the pay-per-booking product, which allows property owners and managers to list their property on HomeAway.com without paying any upfront fees. In Oct 2012, HomeAway expanded its online travel accommodation options through a deal with Expedia.com (EXPE) to feature its vacation rental properties on the latter’s website.

We believe these strategic partnerships and acquisitions will help HomeAway to grow in the future.

In the recently concluded quarter, the company’s revenues increased 26.1% year over year to $90.3 million or 24.9% on a constant currency basis. However, earnings of 1 cent were well below the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 7 cents due to higher-than-expected expenses.

Currently, HomeAway has a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). Some better-ranked stocks worth considering at the current levels are Carnival Corp (CCL), Six Flags Entertainment Corporation (SIX) and SFX Entertainment Inc. (SFXE). All these stocks carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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