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People are scared to book vacations amid the coronavirus pandemic, and Booking Holdings Inc (NASDAQ: BKNG) CEO Glenn Fogel has an inside look as both the CEO of a portfolio of travel companies and as someone who recovered at home from the virus.Booking CEO: 'This Is Nothing To Laugh About' People are "much more concerned" with making sure there is enough money on hand to take care of their "immediate needs," Fogel said Thursday on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street."People are also worried if they will still have a job or if they or a member of their family will get sick, the CEO said.These are "real concerns" and certainly more pressing than planning a vacation for July, he said. "That's the basic thing I totally feel for everybody having been through this myself. I know this is nothing to laugh about," he said."I have been so fortunate and so lucky to come right out of it but I know there a lot of people who are not coming out quite as easily."The Impact On Restaurants Among the more than 54,000 restaurants on OpenTable's platform, "very, very few" are open today, Fogel said.In-dining reservations are still seen "here and there," although it is unclear if this is the result of people not listening to stay-at-home directives, he said. Regardless, this is a "temporary period" and small restaurants without large cash flows and savings need support, the CEO said. What's Next For Booking The travel industry was likely the first to be impacted by the coronavirus and will likely be the last to recover, the CEO said.While travel will resume at some point, travel companies need some form of support to help get over this "bad period," Fogel said. The stock was down 1.82% at $1,248.47 at the time of publication Thursday.Related Links:9 Beaten-Down Travel Stocks To Buy, Sell And HoldStifel Upgrades, Downgrades Airlines Facing Coronavirus Shock, Says Hawaiian Well-PositionedSee more from Benzinga * Two Pros Discuss The K Stocks Worth Buying(C) 2020 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.
Booking Holdings CEO Glenn Fogel tested positive for coronavirus, the company disclosed Wednesday in a financial filing. The online travel giant also said it has succession plans for all of its senior executives, suggesting they could cover temporarily for Fogel if necessary. Fogel told employees his symptoms are mild, and he doesn't believe he infected […]
Faced with a backlash over its unilateral decision to refund guest reservations and leave hosts empty-handed while competitors took a more balanced approach, Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky apologized to hosts, and detailed a $260 million Airbnb relief package. In a letter to hosts sent Monday (embedded below) , Chesky said that the decision […]
Booking Holdings (BKNG) reported earnings 30 days ago. What's next for the stock? We take a look at earnings estimates for some clues.
The COVID-19 coronavirus is making its way across the world. The outbreak began at the end of 2019 in Wuhan, China; it has killed roughly 2,500 people, infected more than 83,000 people overall and spread to nearly 50 countries, including the U.S., since then.The coronavirus has now passed the 2002-03 SARS and 2015 MERS outbreaks in scale, and that has triggered heavy selling: Stock indices around the world, including here at home, have been sent into correction territory. Numerous stock picks are already in bear markets.It's no small worry. The SARS outbreak tallied 774 deaths across more than 8,000 cases over a six-month period, yet helped knock China's GDP down from 11.1% in the first quarter of 2003 to 9.1% in the second quarter. The coronavirus's ultimate potential to disrupt the global economy is far worse.This health issue is weighing on most stocks, but it's cutting particularly deep into a few specific industries where the financial strain is already being felt. If there's any silver lining, it's that, like with SARS, this could end up being an opportunity to buy otherwise high-quality stocks at a discount for a potential snap-back.Here, we look at 13 stock picks that are being hammered by the coronavirus outbreak. These stocks might be best avoided until a clearer picture of the coronavirus's eventual fallout develops. But they eventually might be extremely attractive buy-the-dip prospects. SEE ALSO: 11 Best Stocks to Ride Out the Coronavirus Outbreak
Expedia Group Inc. shares are off 6% in premarket trading Thursday after Goldman Sachs analyst Heath Terry downgraded the stock to sell from neutral. While he acknowledged that there was risk to downgrading Expedia's stock with travel widely understood to be in a "depressed state," he sees a high risk that investors "may be overly optimistic about the prospects for a sharp recovery in online travel or Expedia's ability to fully participate given the company's balance sheet and the need to reduce costs and investments." He expects that Expedia will manage its balance sheet by cutting marketing costs and accelerating a reduction in headcount, and negotiating debt covenants, among other things, but he is worried that the company's actions could hinder its competitive positioning. "We see Booking Holdings as best positioned in the space for the eventual recovery, with its more favorable mix of business and stronger balance sheet," Terry wrote, as he has a neutral rating on that stock. Expedia shares have lost 35% over the past month, while Booking's has dropped 19% and the S&P 500 has fallen 21%.
(Bloomberg) -- Google and other digital advertising companies are seeing revenue growth wither as marketers slash spending ahead of an expected recession triggered by the coronavirus.The global pandemic and the ensuing slump in economic activity is crushing several industries that have been big buyers of Google and Facebook Inc. ads, including online travel agents, automakers, restaurants and retail.“I’m hearing some big numbers, with ad spending down 30% to 50% across the board,” said Rob Griffin, founder of digital ad consulting firm G5 Futures. Some marketers will slash budgets by 80% or 90%, while others may stop for a while if they’re in sectors that are particularly hard hit, he added.Millions of people are sheltering at home and spending more time on social media, video streaming and other online services. That’s increasing the amount of digital ad space, but demand for those marketing spots is weak, so prices are falling.“The consumption is irrelevant, it’s completely irrelevant,” said Brian Wieser, president of business intelligence for GroupM, the media buying arm of advertising giant WPP Plc. “The total amount of money available is independent of viewership trends.”Facebook warned on Tuesday that its ad business is weakening in countries that are aggressively fighting the virus. Many of its services are being used more, such as messaging, but they don’t run ads, the company added. The day before, Twitter Inc. said usage has jumped, but global advertising is curbed, forcing the social-media company to slash its sales forecast and project a loss in the current quarter.“The sudden impact of the COVID-19 virus will ripple through the ad market,” Michael Nathanson, an analyst at Moffettnathanson LLC, wrote in a note to investors. “Given the sheer size of digital ad spending in today’s marketplace (i.e., more than 50% of all ad spend is now digital), we would expect other digital platforms to see significant deceleration in ad revenues in the coming months.”“We would suggest investors avoid catching falling knives at Google and Facebook,” he added.Google declined to comment on its ad business on Tuesday. On the company’s YouTube video service, viewing has jumped in the past week, but CPMs, the industry’s way of measuring ad prices, fell as much as 8%, according to one digital media executive who asked not to be identified discussing private figures.Shares of Google parent Alphabet Inc. and Facebook are down about 25% since the middle of February, so some of the digital ad downturn may already been priced in. Facebook stock dipped about 1% in extended trading after its warning. Alphabet was little changed.Longer term, Google and Facebook have big cash hoards and little debt, so they can withstand a deep recession, according to Bloomberg Intelligence internet analyst Jitendra Waral.The last major economic downturn was a boon to these companies. The 2008 financial crisis triggered a similar slump in advertising, but much of that was focused on traditional media. Online platforms took advantage of the moment, and pitched their ads as cheaper, more-targeted alternatives. Now, digital ads take in more than $300 billion a year from the largest corporations to the smallest businesses. Google and Facebook account for more than half of that, according to research firm EMarketer.Singapore Shuts Bars; India on Nationwide Lockdown: Virus UpdateLast week, as the scale of the crisis hit home, ad agency executives worked the phones, trying to help clients figure out what to do next. Some pulled out completely while others raced to adjust the tone of their ads.“You have industries that were extremely active as of a week ago come to a screeching halt: restaurants, travel, retail,” said Doug Rozen, chief media officer at advertising agency 360i. Other companies are still spending, but being more conservative, he added.Google and Facebook derive much of their revenue from small businesses, thousands of which could shut if a deep recession sets in. Both internet companies offer self-service ad platforms that can be switched off quickly.“Advertising is the easiest expense to cut, you can literally log into Google Ads and turn it off and start saving money,” said Ari Paparo, head of digital ad firm Beeswax Inc. and a former Google executive.Amazon.com Inc. recently cut back drastically on how much money it spends on Google ads. The online retailer is one of Google’s largest ad buyers, usually snapping up product listing ads to lure web shoppers to Amazon.Expedia Group Inc. and Booking Holdings Inc. each spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year marketing on Google, but these online travel agents have been hammered by the abrupt halt in flights, business trips and vacations.Booking Withdraws Already-Bleak Forecast, Citing CoronavirusBooking Holdings has pulled back “materially” on brand advertising, RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Mahaney wrote in a recent research note after meeting executives from the online travel company. The industry accounts for about 10% to 15% of Google’s ad revenue, with Booking and Expedia accounting for about 3% each, Mahaney estimates.Even businesses that don’t sell through the internet often purchase Google ads to encourage people to visit their brick-and-mortar locations. Last week, Being Yoga, a yoga studio about 15 miles south of San Francisco, was still buying Google search ads, based on the query “yoga near me,” despite being closed. Bloomberg News contacted the business, which said it had forgotten to switch the ads off.Retailers often buy Google local inventory ads that show online shoppers whether products are stocked in nearby stores. With many non-essential retailers shutting locations, demand for these ads may slow.“If stores are closed, we absolutely recommend they turn off local inventory ads,” a Google spokeswoman said.Real numbers showing the virus’ impact are beginning to emerge from China, which was hit first and shut down travel and non-essential businesses weeks ago.Advertising sales on China’s big digital platforms are projected to drop 20% to 30% in the first quarter of the year, WPP’s Wieser said. Automobile ads slumped 79% in China in February, a far steeper decline than any time during the 2008 financial crisis, he also noted. Most Google services are unavailable in mainland China, but in the rest of the world, automakers are another big ad customer.Even industries that are seeing higher demand, like consumer goods, are unlikely to advertise more right now. “Why would you advertise toilet paper right now? It’s not helpful,” Wieser said. “They want to curtail demand.”(Updates with YouTube ad prices in ninth paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Is an Airbnb inherently safer than a hotel stay during a post-coronavirus environment? And will Airbnb be better positioned than other companies to lead the future of travel? Airbnb is seeking new private funding, with about 20 investors expressing interest, but Skift subsequently obtained a confidential memo sent to suitors about a consumer survey as […]
Airbnb had $2 billion cash on hand at the end of 2019, but with losses mounting, and a direct listing or an initial public offering impossible as coronavirus-burdened stock markets flop, the short-term rental giant may try to raise funding privately from new investors. [Update: A source close to Airbnb said some 20 parties, including […]
(Bloomberg) -- Airbnb Inc.’s board met this week to consider a wide range of options in response to the current economic crisis, which is weighing heavily on the business. The potential moves include acquiring distressed assets, raising more funding from private investors and revising plans for a stock market debut scheduled for this year, people familiar with the deliberations said.The home-rental startup has been approached by a dozen potential investors, according to the people, all of whom asked not to be identified discussing private information. The investors include venture capitalists, private equity firms and sovereign wealth funds, with potential deals ranging in size from $100 million to $1 billion, the people said. None of them has set a price tag for the company, but Airbnb is unlikely to maintain the $31 billion valuation it enjoyed during the bull market.At the same time, Airbnb is actively looking at acquiring distressed companies, particularly short-term rental providers, one of the people said. One possible contender is Sonder Inc., a San Francisco-based startup that lists rental units on Airbnb’s website. Sonder’s bookings are projected to decline 90% as a result of the pandemic, possibly extending to 2021, another person said. However, two people close to Sonder said it hasn’t engaged in deal talks. “Sonder is not for sale or being sold,” a spokesman for the startup said.The situation at Airbnb reflects a grave sense of uncertainty and panic felt across the business landscape, which is forcing most companies to reevaluate plans. Airbnb has said it would go public this year, but the coronavirus pandemic has taken a steep toll on the travel industry. Countries are closing borders to curb the spread of infection, and many places are going into lockdown. Booking Holdings Inc. and Expedia Group Inc. withdrew financial forecasts, citing the worsening impact of the virus, and hotels are seeking federal aid.Before the crisis, Airbnb had been leaning toward listing its shares directly for trading on the stock market this year without raising additional capital. It’s now reevaluating that position and may instead pursue a more traditional initial public offering to raise cash for the business, people familiar with the matter said. Airbnb, which was unprofitable before the outbreak, faces the likelihood of much steeper losses this quarter and next, after offering refunds for all reservations through at least April 14.Members of the Airbnb board are divided over the best way forward. The company has about $3 billion of cash and a $1 billion line of credit, people familiar with the matter said. CNBC earlier reported some details of the approaches from investors.“There is no way any company in the tourism industry is going public this year, absolutely no way,” said Greg Klassen, a travel industry strategist at consultancy Twenty31 with more than 25 years experience. “You need multiple quarters of profitability and to look like you’re in full control with nothing but blue sky ahead to help with valuations -- and none of those things are true today.”Large investors, including some of Airbnb’s own backers, have privately expressed concerns that the pandemic will dent the company’s results for the duration of the year and perhaps longer. In recent weeks, that uncertainty has been reflected in stock trading among private investors. The offer price for Airbnb shares have fallen to $105 as of Friday, from $150 before the pandemic.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Like every sector in the travel industry, the short-term rental industry confronts a struggle to survive because of the novel coronavirus crisis. But when it comes to guest cancellation and refund policies, companies such as Airbnb, Vrbo, Booking.com, Tripadvisor, property management companies, and local players face an acute quandary — generate outrage from guests, or […]
SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst Naved Khan repeated his Buy ratings on Booking Holdings, the operator of Booking.com, Expedia and Tripadvisor.
(Bloomberg) -- Amazon.com Inc. has slashed the amount of money it spends on Google advertising in recent days, a potential blow to the search giant’s revenue at an already-unstable time.The e-commerce company generally buys Google ads to funnel web shoppers to its online store. But since March 11, Amazon has cut back drastically across nearly all categories, according to data collected by Tinuiti Inc., a marketing agency that handles about $1.5 billion a year in spending for various advertisers.“Amazon has significantly pulled back in Google Shopping and text ads,” said Andy Taylor, Tinuiti’s director of research. In Google keyword auctions, Amazon is still bidding “lightly” against some advertisers, but it has “disappeared as a competitor altogether for others,” he added.“While we don’t comment on individual customers, it’s not unusual for advertisers to adjust their campaigns at any time for any number of reasons,” a Google spokesperson said. An Amazon spokesperson did not return a request for comment.Amazon is responding to a surge in demand for everyday items as people avoid physical stores because of the coronavirus pandemic. The company is prioritizing the stocking of household and medical supplies and is looking to hire 100,000 extra workers. Amazon could be cutting back on ads because it doesn’t want to push even more people to its website and overload its supply chain, warehouses and logistics network.“They don’t need to drive more demand,” said Travis Johnson, global chief executive officer of Podean, a marketing firm that specializes in helping companies advertise on Amazon and other digital marketplaces. Some of his clients have seen sales on Amazon.com spike as much as six times this month, compared to February, he said.The pandemic may curb Google’s ad revenue growth as economic activity slows and companies look for ways to cut costs. Online travel agencies Expedia Group Inc. and Booking Holdings Inc., which are major Google ad buyers, have been particularly hard hit since global travel almost ground to a halt a few weeks ago.In China, where the virus spread first, online ad spending will grow this year at the slowest pace since 2011, research firm EMarketer said Tuesday.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
To the annoyance of some shareholders, Booking Holdings (NASDAQ:BKNG) shares are down a considerable 35% in the last...
After Booking Holdings did likewise a few days earlier, Expedia Group withdrew its first quarter financial guidance, citing the ongoing impact of coronavirus. In addition, Expedia Group announced Friday it would be suspending share repurchases so it can retain maximum flexibility to maneuver during the pandemic. Its stock has plummeted 43 percent in the past […]
Airbnb, which was preparing to go public in 2020, nearly doubled the size of its losses in the fourth quarter — and that was before coronavirus upended the global economy and daily life in many parts of the world. In the first two months of 2020, Airbnb's bookings plunged in key cities, including Beijing, Seoul, […]
(Bloomberg) -- Airbnb Inc.’s losses almost doubled in the fourth quarter of last year, even before the coronavirus pandemic caused global travel to nearly grind to a halt.The world’s biggest home-sharing company reported a loss of $276.4 million excluding interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, compared with a loss of $143.7 million a year earlier, according to a person familiar with the company’s accounts. Revenue increased 32% in the period to $1.1 billion, and it has more than $2 billion in the bank, the person said. Airbnb declined to comment on the figures.Covid-19 has hit the travel industry hard and is likely to throw a wrench in the San Francisco-based startup’s growth trajectory and possibly thwart its plans for a public stock listing this year. Airbnb projected revenue to increase 25% in the first quarter of this year, according to the person, who asked not to be named discussing information that’s not public. That projection likely underestimated the full effect of the coronavirus on international travel, the person said.The coronavirus is now active in more than 100 countries, and has put Italy on near total lockdown. The Trump administration announced Wednesday that it would significantly restrict travel to the U.S. from Europe for 30 days. Airlines have canceled flights to several countries, hotels have closed and many companies have forbidden international travel for their employees. On Monday, Booking Holdings Inc., the world’s largest online travel-booking site, withdrew its already bleak first-quarter guidance, citing the worsening impact of the coronavirus. Some analysts predict hotel revenue to decrease more than 50% in the second quarter.In China, Airbnb’s business has been devastated by the virus. Planned bookings for February and March were down by more than 90% from a year earlier, the person said.The widening losses could also raise flags for investors who are scrutinizing the company ahead of a potential listing. Airbnb was profitable before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in 2017 and 2018, but lost money on that basis in 2019, a person familiar with the accounts said previously. The company has been spending heavily on marketing ahead of its public debut.With a private market valuation of $31 billion, Airbnb had been seen as one of the most highly anticipated stock listings for 2020. But one of the main ingredients for a successful stock market debut is evidence of growth and -- if not profit -- the potential for big earnings in the future. The virus will make that harder for Airbnb to show this year.Airbnb has already been fielding scores of complaints from guests who have been forced to cancel travel plans and are being denied a refund. Airbnb’s “extenuating circumstances” coronavirus policy currently only covers China, South Korea and Italy, while new travel restrictions are emerging frequently. Unlike big hotel chains, Airbnb is a two-way platform, which means for every guest cancellation it approves there is a host at the other end who winds up out of pocket. As the company tries to strike a balance between the two, many guests have been left to negotiate over refunds with their hosts, who are not always willing to be flexible.Airbnb has acknowledged in previous statements that “coronavirus outbreak is causing travel restrictions and other disruptions that have a direct impact on the travel and tourism sector and beyond.” But it has continued to remain optimistic. “Although nobody can know the extent of the impact that the coronavirus outbreak may have, we believe that history shows that when global disruptions happen, the travel industry has bounced back in the long run,” spokesman Nick Papas said recently. Regarding the stock listing, he pointed toward the company’s statement last year saying it intends to be publicly traded in 2020.(Updates with information on refund policy in eighth paragraph)To contact the reporters on this story: Eric Newcomer in San Francisco at email@example.com;Olivia Carville in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Molly Schuetz at email@example.com, Alistair BarrFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Bookings for flights departing the U.S. suffered another steep decline over the past week, as would-be passengers concerned about COVID-19 shied away from travel commitments.
(Bloomberg) -- Josh Ostroff had a difficult choice to make: Cancel a trip to Japan in March that he’d been promising his 10-year-old son for three years, or ignore travel warnings and put his family’s health at risk amid the coronavirus outbreak.He decided to cancel the trip.When the Toronto-based family asked for their money back, citing the Canadian government’s warning to “exercise a high degree of caution” in Japan, they received a refund from their hotels and a voucher from the airline. Airbnb Inc. said no.The San Francisco-based startup said the family didn’t qualify for a refund under its new “extenuating circumstances” coronavirus policy, which only applies to China, Italy and South Korea. The home-share company’s official response to the family refers to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “If the CDC’s precautions are followed, you could safely travel to Japan.”Ostroff was shocked. “I repeatedly asked about bringing a child into this situation and they did not answer,” he said. “I feel like Airbnb is being recklessly irresponsible here.”Airbnb, which was founded in 2008 during the financial crisis as a cheaper alternative to hotels, is confronting a second major challenge in the coronavirus. The stakes are higher than ever this time around because this is the year Airbnb wants to debut on the stock market. And with more than 7 million listings across the globe and a private market valuation of $31 billion, Airbnb’s reputation has never mattered more or been under more scrutiny.The Covid-19 virus, which is now active in more than 100 countries, has hit the travel industry hard. Some airlines have canceled flights to certain countries, hotels have closed and the some of the biggest conferences of the year have been scrapped. Many companies have forbidden international travel and told staff to work from home. On Monday, Booking Holdings Inc., the world’s largest online travel-booking site, withdrew its already bleak first-quarter guidance, citing the worsening impact of the coronavirus.Navigating the global outbreak is trickier for Airbnb than for big hotel chains or airlines who serve only travelers and manage all of their inventory. Airbnb is a two-way platform, connecting people who want to rent out all or part of their home with travelers seeking accommodations. For every guest cancellation the company approves there is a host at the other end who winds up out of pocket.In its drive to balance the needs of hosts, who sometimes get their entire income from listing property on the site, against travelers’ concerns, Airbnb -- at least for now -- is putting the onus on hosts to be accommodating, such as by offering refunds or loosening cancellation policies. But that’s leaving a lot of travelers disgruntled and feeling like they’re footing the bill for stays they had no choice but to cancel.Smart companies strive to protect their reputations, especially when bad things happen outside their control, said Micah Solomon, a customer service expert and author of the book Ignore Your Customers And They’ll Go Away. “This crisis is going to be over sometime,” he said, and when it’s over “you still want to be the go-to place for guests.”Right now not many guests want to be at an Airbnb. Angry travelers have flooded Twitter with complaints over what many are calling a lack of compassion during a global health emergency. Users have vented about four-day waits to speak to a real person and said the company’s policies are implicitly encouraging them to put their health at risk. One user wrote: “Looks like we have to actually get covid-19 to get a 100% refund from @Airbnb. Talk about mixed incentives.” Another said: “No corporate social responsibility? You’re forcing people to take their trips and possibly spread COVID.”Part of the problem stems from Airbnb’s shared responsibility with hosts on refunds. Airbnb will give a full refund within the first 48 hours after a guest books a site. After that, it’s up to hosts to set how much of a refund they’re willing to offer. These policies, outlined on each individual listing, can range from very flexible, offering free cancellation up to a day before, to very strict no refund whatsoever. Airbnb says hosts offer flexible and moderate cancellation policies on more than 60% of current listings.In Ostroff’s case, he had booked three Airbnb’s for the trip to Japan and got three very different responses to his refund requests. The first host granted a full refund, but Airbnb still pocketed a $125 service fee from the reservation. The second host refused any refund and the third simply never replied. In all, the family lost more than $1,000.After being made aware of the Ostroff’s situation by Bloomberg, Airbnb offered the family a full refund.Airbnb said not all of its guests are angry. “We have heard from many guests who appreciate that their hosts have been flexible and helped them rearrange or cancel their travel plans with no penalty,” it said in a statement.Many U.S. companies are basing their policies on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the national public health institute. The CDC rates Japan an alert level 2, and recommends older adults and those with chronic medical conditions consider postponing nonessential travel there. But the country is taking more drastic action. Schools, museums and sporting events have been canceled, and the Hokkaido region has declared a state of emergency. The government is advising against being in crowds.Travel companies have varying responses to requests for refunds. Expedia Group Inc.’s vacation-rental site VRBO hasn’t extended its cancellation or refund policy for guests impacted by the virus. The company’s Book with Confidence Guarantee only protects guests from fraudulent listings and misrepresentation. “It does not cover cancellations due to travel advisories from force majeure,” meaning unforeseeable circumstances beyond its control, Expedia said in a statement. Marriott International Inc. is waiving cancellation fees for stays through March 31 for travel to or from several countries in Asia and Italy.On Tuesday, Airbnb updated its policies to offer hosts more tools to grant refunds and, in turn, allow guests to postpone travel plans. It will reward hosts who are willing to be flexible on refunds by giving their listings more visibility and scrapping the 3% fee it typically charges. The company also offered to return its service fee to guests as a coupon to be used on future bookings if trips have to be canceled due to coronavirus.“Travel on Airbnb is powered by people, not large corporations,” Airbnb’s head of homes Greg Greeley said in a statement. Because of Airbnb’s “two-sided model, when a crisis like Covid-19 hits, we know that it doesn’t just impact us as a company, but also the individual stakeholders within our community: the hosts who rely on their Airbnb income, and guests who have their travel plans disrupted.” Airbnb is “committed to doing everything we can to fairly support both parties, consistent with how this two-sided marketplace works,” he added.While gearing up for its public listing, Airbnb has been spending more on marketing and new safety features, causing the company to swing to a loss in 2019 after two years of profit before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. “It’s easy to understand why they’re being very prudent with refunds,” said Bradley Tusk, a venture capitalist who advises technology companies in crisis, though has never worked with Airbnb. But, warned that the company risked hurting its brand as it edges closer to a listing. (Tusk also ran the 2009 mayoral campaign of Michael Bloomberg, the owner of Bloomberg LP.)Airbnb’s updated policy does little for travelers like the Ostroff’s, and others who have had to cancel or postpone trips to the 97 or so countries not covered by the company’s extenuating circumstances policy. Nor does it help those who were planning to attend public events that have since been scrapped.William Matchin was traveling from South Carolina to Massachusetts for two psychology conferences this month. Both were canceled due to the virus and Airbnb declined to give him a refund. “It took forever to get on the phone with them and basically they just said go and talk to the host and try to get a refund from them,” Matchin said. “This is such a stark contrast to hotels and airlines which have issued automatic refunds no questions asked. It’s crazy.”(Updates with Expedia policy in 16th paragraph)\--With assistance from Patrick Clark.To contact the reporters on this story: Olivia Carville in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org;Eric Newcomer in San Francisco at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Molly Schuetz at firstname.lastname@example.org, Alistair BarrFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Booking.com wants to trademark two generic terms, making them into one extremely valuable piece of intellectual property. That's bad for the internet, say digital liberties advocates.
Booking Holdings Inc (NASDAQ: BKNG) has withdrawn its first-quarter guidance citing the worsening impact of coronavirus.The withdrawal of its outlook, which was issued less than two weeks back, suggests that the fast-spreading coronavirus is taking a toll on the company's core European market, according to SunTrust.The Booking Analyst Naved Khan maintained a Buy rating for Booking Holdings, while reducing the price target from $2,250 to $2,100.The Booking Thesis The global travel landscape is rapidly deteriorating. Demand is likely to continue contracting as the virus spreads across developed economies and the second quarter could be the worst hit, Khan said in the note.Booking Holdings indicated that the virus outbreak escalated over the past week and suggested incremental travel weakness in Europe and North America.See Also: Cancel Reservations For Booking Holdings Stock Until Coronavirus Outbreak Subsides, Argus Says In DowngradeThe analyst said that the virus could pressure the company's results over the next few quarters. He reduced the 2020 estimates for bookings, revenues, and EBITDA from $94,294 to $63,656, from $14,983 million to $9,664 million and from $5,913 million to $3,078 million, respectively.Khan expects travel declines to bottom during the second quarter and suggested long-term investors to look beyond the coronavirus hit. He added that the "intrinsic value of the business remains very compelling" for long-term investors and that Booking Holdings' performance could rebound in 2021, "propelled by a sticky, best-in class offering."BKNG Price Action Shares of Booking Holdings were trading up 0.95% at $1,542.28 at time of publication. Photo by Caroline Selfors on UnsplashLatest Ratings for BKNG DateFirmActionFromTo Mar 2020SunTrust Robinson HumphreyMaintainsBuy Mar 2020Credit SuisseMaintainsOutperform Mar 2020UBSMaintainsNeutral View More Analyst Ratings for BKNG View the Latest Analyst Ratings See more from Benzinga * Why Kohl's Gross Margin Outlook Appears Optimistic * BofA Upgrades Eldorado Gold On 5-Year Outlook, Valuation * 3 Reasons Goldman Sachs Is Bullish On Kodiak Sciences(C) 2020 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.
There is no shortage of reasons to like Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). The company has been flying high since the appointment of CEO Satya Nadella in 2014, and now boasts a market capitalization of $1.23 trillion. Like most stocks, Microsoft has felt the impact of the coronavirus from China. However, even taking that setback into account, Microsoft stock has still put together an impressive 43% run over the past 12 months. Source: The Art of Pics / Shutterstock.com The company has a diverse range of businesses, a rapidly growing cloud presence and it shows no sign of slowing down.Microsoft may actually see some wins out of the coronavirus (more on that shortly). Even without that possibility, with the stock currently down 17% from its mid-February high of $188.70, it's presenting a buying opportunity. InvestorPlace - Stock Market News, Stock Advice & Trading Tips Investment Analysts Love MSFTGood luck finding an investment analyst who doesn't see Microsoft as a must-have for your portfolio. Among the 34 analysts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal, 28 have the stock rated as a "buy." Their average 12-month price target of $196.97 offers 22% upside. Evercore ISI is particularly bullish on Microsoft, recently raising its price target to $212, noting:"The bottom line is we believe that Microsoft is well-positioned to grow its top line and bottom line in the double digits for the foreseeable future, and the stock should continue to outpace the broader markets over the next few years." Diversity One of the keys to Microsoft's growth (and resilience) is its diversity. While Office and Windows are still important to the company's bottom line, the company has significantly broadened its offerings. * 10 Best Stocks to Buy and Hold Forever The Surface lineup is a popular collection of premium PC hardware, including the class-leading Surface Pro tablet. Microsoft is a leading game console maker, with a very popular online gaming service (Xbox Live), and an all-new console (Xbox Series X) due to launch later in 2020. Microsoft is also set to launch its xCloud game streaming service this year. The company is also a pioneer in augmented reality. Its HoloLens headset is now in its second generation, and seeing both commercial and military adoption. A Cloud-Based FutureWhat really excites analysts is Microsoft's cloud computing bet. The company's investment in its Azure cloud division has been paying off big time.Azure powers Microsoft's own products, including subscription-based Office 365, Microsoft Live, Bing, Cortana and the forthcoming xCloud. Azure also competes against other cloud service providers, and is gaining on Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) first-place AWS. Microsoft's cloud customers include eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) and Samsung, and in November, Azure beat out AWS for the $10 billion U.S. Department of Defense JEDI contract. Though that contract is currently being contested.With cloud computing and related applications only growing in importance, Microsoft is well positioned to take full advantage of the trend. Potential Coronavirus Wins?Many sectors are taking a beating from the coronavirus and are likely to see long-lasting harm from the outbreak. For example, travel companies like Booking Holdings (NASDAQ:BKNG) face a pretty dismal year. As unlikely as it might seem, there are aspects of Microsoft's business that could actually get a boost from the coronavirus.As people hunker down and stay home, they will be looking for entertainment. That means the company may sell more Xbox game consoles and more Xbox Live passes. As companies begin to encourage employees to work from home, that could result in an uptick in subscriptions to Office 365. Organizing and keeping remote workers on track can be a challenge, and that could boost the adoption of Teams -- Microsoft's Slack (NYSE:WORK) competitor. Bottom Line on Microsoft StockYes, the coronavirus has done a number on Microsoft over the past two weeks. But the company is better positioned than most companies to ride it out. Some of its businesses may even benefit from the outbreak. Once we are back to normal? The company is set to resume its trajectory -- even the most pessimistic analysts still see growth for Microsoft over the next 12-months.Microsoft stock may have dropped 17% since closing at a record high on Feb. 10, but that only makes it a buying opportunity. Brad Moon has been writing for InvestorPlace.com since 2012. He also writes about stocks for Kiplinger and has been a senior contributor focusing on consumer technology for Forbes since 2015. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities. More From InvestorPlace * 2 Toxic Pot Stocks You Should Avoid * 7 Healthcare Stocks Worth Your Time Now * Buy the Dip in These 7 Online Advertising Stocks Now * 7 Services Stocks to Buy on Coronavirus Weakness The post The Coronavirus Effect Makes Microsoft Stock a Buy appeared first on InvestorPlace.