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Priceline Profit Boosted By Bookings Rise

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Priceline, the online travel agency, posted a higher quarterly profit on Thursday, with a strong increase in bookings.

Fourth-quarter net income came to USD$378 million, compared with USD$289 million a year earlier.

Gross bookings came to USD$9.1 billion, up about 39 percent from a year earlier. International bookings rose 41 percent while US bookings gained nearly 27 percent.

Quarterly revenue rose about 29 percent to USD$1.54 billion.

Darren Huston, who became chief executive of Priceline in January, said bookings for hotel stays, airline tickets and rental cars picked up at the end of the quarter for the start of 2014.

"There was broad-based strength throughout the world but the US in particular was a very healthy market," Huston said in an interview.

He said the Priceline brand performed well, aided by airline ticket sales and rental car reservations.

"Priceline continues to take market share or just gain penetration across all of its geographies," said Daniel Kurnos, an analyst with Benchmark Company.

Priceline, which owns Kayak and Agoda, is boosting its presence in fast-growing markets such as Asia. The acquisition of Kayak, which compiles airline and hotel prices from other travel websites, gave Priceline more exposure.

The results from Priceline followed stronger-than-expected results from rivals Expedia and Orbitz in recent weeks.

"Online travel within travel is very strong, and within online travel, people are turning to online travel agencies even more," Huston said. "It's a combination of those things that I think have led to a pretty healthy environment for all the players in this space."

(Reuters)

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