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Expedia stock falls after home-rental growth underwhelms

Emily Bary

Shares of Expedia Group Inc. are down 2.6% in Friday morning trading after the company posted a narrower loss than analysts were expecting but disappointed some analysts with its room-night growth in "alternative accommodations," or home rentals. Expedia is shifting its branding strategy in home rentals, so that it will now focus on the Vrbo name, rather than the HomeAway name. That change, along with search-engine optimization issues and competitive pressures led to 8% growth in room nights for alternative accommodations, "well below expectations," according to Stifel's Scott Devitt, who rates the stock at hold. "Slower growth at Vrbo could persist for a number of quarters," he wrote, lowering his target price to $135 from $140. Morgan Stanley's Brian Nowak wrote that "8% room-night growth and subsequent higher near-term execution risk are likely to make Vrbo into an even greater show-me story," wrote Morgan Stanley's Brian Nowak. "We think Vrbo's growth and prolonged turnaround (as we now see investment into urban and international being pushed more into next year) are likely to weigh on the multiple investors are willing to pay for Expedia (as Vrbo is supposed to be positioned as one of the more exciting growth assets within the portfolio)," he continued. Nowak rates shares at equal-weight with a $130 target price. The stock has gained 11% so far this year, as the S&P 500 has risen 17%.