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Last year was the first full quarterly under Expedia's new Chief Executive Officer Mark Okerstrom, who took over from Dara Khosrowshahi after leaving the firm to take the top position with motorist Uber Technologies Inc.
"Under the new leadership, Expedia is making more aggressive investments in technology and sales to expand its worldwide footprint and move up to the position of Priceline Group Inc PCLN.O, the market-leading company that has currently been selling approximately twice its stock and room-night sales as Expedia," said RBC Capital Markets analysts Mark Mahaney. While Mahaney reduced his objective from $155 to $141, he maintained an "outperform" crediting.
Concerned that the obvious stock wars between Priceline and Expedia after the change of leadership could put a similar burden on the industry as in China with the airline Qunar, said Daniel Kurnos, analysts at Benchmark Co. Qunar and Ctrip (CTRP.O)'s viability was violated a few years ago after a pricey coupon pricing battle to win a larger share of China's thriving on-line tourist industry.
"We do not see a pleasing end to the seeming pressure on prices in the near future and see that the Qunar rally has taken almost 18 month to completely unwind," said Kurnos, who downgraded the share from "buy" to "hold" and suspended a share priced objective. Bellevue, Washington-based Expedia said on Thursday that investing in its main line of work and in holiday home away, which is competing with Airbnb, as well as higher expenditure clouds will ache the first trimester of 2018.
However, some economists were upbeat about Expedia's long-term outlook as investment, which includes increasing staff recruitment in the accommodation sector, would accelerate the pace of pre-tax, pre-tax, depreciation and amortisation and free cash-flow expansion in 2019. "We recognize that Expedia is now likely to be a show me storyline until the second and third quarters.... but we stay "overweight" and are purchasers of (the stock)," said Morgan Stanley equity expert Brian Nowak, dropping his guidance to $150 from $160.
At $123.03 on Thursday, Expedia stock had gained around 0.2 per cent over the last 12 month, below the 13.6 per cent performance of the Dow Jones U.S. Travel and Leisure Index.DJUSCG.