Priceline (NASDAQ:PCLN) is one of the leading online travel agencies offering consumers a wide range of travel services including bookings for hotel stays, airline tickets, car rentals, cruises and vacation packages. Priceline is the second largest travel online travel service provider in the world behind Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE).
Priceline enables customers to purchase travel services under a traditional price-disclosed model or through its proprietary Name Your Own Price service. Name Your Own Price allows customers with flexibility on date, time of travel, or supplier choice to bid for hotel room stays, air tickets, or other travel services. Priceline matches these bids with discounted (but otherwise undisclosed) fares offered by travel suppliers, and determines whether to accept the bid.
Launch of Coverage on Priceline; $452 Price Estimate
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We’ve launched coverage of Priceline with a $452 Trefis price estimate, a slight premium to market price, which has jumped more than 100% over the past year. We estimate that hotel bookings generate over 90% of Priceline’s stock value, while air ticket bookings constitute less than 3%. Advertising contributes 1% and Priceline’s net cash balance accounts for the remaining 4.5%.
Much of our estimated value for the company is attributable to broad market expectations of continuing growth in bookings at Priceline. Below we highlight one area of downside risk to potential investors – Priceline’s market share in hotel room bookings.
Priceline’s Share of Hotel Room Bookings
Priceline has been able to grow its market share in hotel room bookings over the past few years through increasing penetration of international bookings. We anticipate that Priceline will continue its share gains in the years ahead, albeit at a more moderate pace. Expanding internet access in international markets, along with Priceline’s established position in these regions through subsidiary websites like Booking.com and Agoda, should bolster the company’s growth prospects in this segment. However, competitors like Expedia, Orbitz (NYSE:OWW) and Travelocity possess greater financial resources to facilitate inorganic growth in these markets, so competitive pressure could mitigate Priceline’s market share upside going forward.
We currently project that Priceline’s market share in hotel room bookings will increase form an estimated 2% at year-end 2010 to 3% by the end of our forecast period. However, accelerating competitive pressures could threaten these growth prospects. To highlight Priceline’s sensitivity to this key metric, we estimate that, should Priceline’s market share only reach 2.5% by the end of our forecast period (vs. our 3% base projection), it could generate 12% downside to our $452 price estimate.
Drag the trend line in the modifiable chart above to see the affect of various hotel booking market share scenarios on Priceline’s stock value.