TripAdvisor profit falls 6 percent on higher costs

Rising costs for marketing, technology, send TripAdvisor's 3Q profit heading south

Associated Press

NEWTON, Mass. (AP) -- TripAdvisor Inc. said Wednesday that third-quarter profit fell 6 percent as surging marketing and technology costs outweighed higher revenue at the travel-reviews site.

The company, which took a TV-advertising campaign nationwide and began testing it in some international markets, said that average unique visitors to its websites rose nearly 60 percent to 260 million per month.

The shares rose in after-hours trading.

Net income was $55.9 million, or 38 cents per share, compared with $59.4 million, or 41 cents per share, a year earlier.

The company said that excluding the cost of stock-based compensation and other items it would have earned 45 cents per share, matching Wall Street expectations.

Revenue rose 20 percent to $255.1 million, slightly below analysts' forecast of $255.7 million, according to FactSet.

About three-fourths of revenue came from click-based advertising, which grew a modest 13 percent. Two smaller sources grew faster — subscription and transaction revenue jumped 68 percent, and display advertising grew 29 percent.

Costs rose 42 percent, to $171.4 million. Of the largest three expenses, sales and marketing rose 45 percent, technology and content grew 46 percent, and overhead increased 22 percent.

TripAdvisor features reader-written reviews of hotels and other businesses on several websites including Airfarewatchdog, BookingBuddy and SmarterTravel.

The shares closed regular trading at $75.21, down 29 cents, before the results. In after-hours trading, they were up $3.09, or 4.1 percent, to $78.30.

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