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Priceline shares up on strong 1Q

The Associated Press

Priceline.com Inc.'s shares rose Friday after the travel website operator said that its first-quarter profit and revenue came in ahead of market expectations.

THE SPARK: Priceline reported after the market closed Thursday that it earned $244.3 million, or $4.76 per share, for the quarter compared with $181.8 million or $3.54 per share, last year. It made $5.76 per share, excluding one-time items. Revenue increased to $1.3 billion from $1.04 billion.

Analysts polled by FactSet expected adjusted earnings of $5.27 per share on revenue of $1.27 billion.

THE BIG PICTURE: Priceline, which operates sites such as booking.com, priceline.com and rentalcars.com, said it still sees economic uncertainty in some parts of the world and intense competition in the online travel sector. It expects to earn between $8.87 and $9.45 per share on an adjusted basis for its second quarter; analyst were anticipating earnings of $9.59 per share.

THE ANALYSIS: Cowen analyst Kevin Kopelman said that the company's guidance may be conservative. The analyst said Priceline is well-positioned to gain hotel market share over the next five to 10 years. He also noted that its stock is trading at a discount to its peers, despite faster growth.

Kopelman kept an "outperform" rating on the stock.

SHARE ACTION: Up $30.50, or 4.1 percent, to $768 in midday trading. The stock hit a new 52-week high of $769.67 earlier in the session.