John123
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John123 in Gainers & Losers,

Priceline shares plunged 7.5%. Time to buy?

Priceline Group Inc (PCLN) on Wednesday said its growth would slow in the second quarter as it spends more on marketing and as the timing of holidays shifts traveler bookings, sending shares down 7.5%.

The lower forecast overshadowed a first-quarter profit that exceeded expectations at the world's most profitable online travel services company.

Priceline Group, which operates Booking.com and other sites, earned $374 million in the first three months. Excluding special items, earnings jumped 24% from a year earlier to $532 million, or $10.54 per share. Analysts, on average, had expected $9.65 per share, according to Thomson Reuters.

The profit beat came as customers booked 31% more nights in hotels than a year earlier, with travel bookings up 21% overall, the company said. The early timing of the Easter holiday in part buoyed results.

Still, Priceline's forecast that profit and bookings growth would slow concerned investors.

The company expects bookings to rise up to 18% in the second quarter, and to earn up to $12.50 per share on an adjusted basis. That's short of the 21% rise and $14.90 in earnings per share, which were expected.

"Gross bookings have continued to grow strongly across all channels and key geographic regions thus far in Q2, but growth has decelerated compared to Q1," Chief Financial Officer Daniel Finnegan said on an analyst call.

"We believe that the Eurocup and earlier timing this year for (the Muslim fasting month of) Ramadan will negatively impact our year-over-year growth rate in June."

Costs will also rise as the company said it plans to spend more on marketing to thwart competition from hotels offering discounts on their own websites to lure travelers from companies like Priceline, which charges a fee for listing their inventory.

The weak forecast comes less than a week after Priceline said its Chief Executive Darren Huston had resigned after an investigation into a personal relationship with an employee that violated the company's code of conduct.

I think company's business is developing great and concerns about some slowdown in growth are exaggerated. imho, we jave a good buying opportunity right now.