Booking Holdings Inc. (BKNG) swung to a profit in the fourth quarter from a loss last year, helped by an income tax benefit due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The bottom line exceeded analysts’ expectations while the top line missed consensus estimates. Also, the company guided first-quarter earnings and revenue below the Street’s view.
Net income was $646 million or $13.86 per share compared to a loss of $555 million or $11.41 per share in the previous year quarter. Non-GAAP earnings jumped by 33% to $22.49 per share. Total revenues grew by 16% to $3.21 billion. Gross travel bookings increased by 9% to $19.6 billion.
Looking ahead into the first quarter of 2019, the company expects revenue to be in the range of down 2% to flat. Earnings are anticipated to be in the range of $9.90 to $10.20 per share and adjusted earnings are predicted to be in the range of $10.90 to $11.20 per share.
For the full year 2019, the company now expects adjusted earnings, on a constant currency basis, to grow year-over-year in the low double digits.
For the first quarter, the company sees room nights booked growth in the range 6% to 8% and total gross travel bookings in the range of down 1% to up 1%.
For the fourth quarter, gross travel bookings grew by 8.7% year-over-year to $19.6 billion. The results were primarily driven by a 46% growth in Merchant revenues during the quarter. Meanwhile, agency revenues rose 1.4% to $4.3 billion.
In the first week of February, rival Expedia (EXPE) reported a 69% drop in earnings for the fourth quarter due to higher costs and expenses as well as an increase in income taxes provision. However, the results exceeded analysts’ expectations, primarily driven by the growth in Brand Expedia and Expedia Partner Solutions.
Shares of Booking Holdings ended Wednesday’s regular session down 0.51% at $1,906 on the Nasdaq. Following the earnings release, the stock inched down over 9% in the after-market session.
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