By Levi Sumagaysay
The travel rebound has most likely benefited Airbnb Inc., but rising COVID-19 cases could spell trouble for the home-rental company.
Airbnb (NAS:ABNB) is scheduled to report quarterly results Thursday afternoon, and analysts expect to see a continued economic recovery from the initial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, though they’re unsure of what will happen in the third quarter and beyond because of the delta variant of the virus.
BTIG analysts wrote that “momentum cooled a bit in July,” and Jefferies analysts wrote that the “delta variant is bringing rain to the parade.” Jefferies analysts also mentioned uneven vaccine distribution world-wide as a reason for muted expectations.
Those expectations jibe with what Airbnb competitors Expedia Group Inc. (NAS:EXPE) and Booking Holdings Inc. (NAS:BKNG) said last week when they reported results: cancellations or a pullback beginning in July.
“The road to full travel recovery remains bumpy until more of the world is vaccinated,” Expedia Chief Executive Peter Kern said on the company’s earnings call last week.
Where Airbnb could stand apart is that it mostly offers booking of alternative lodging such as home and apartment rentals, which have done well even amid travel restrictions, and as international and business travel continue to be negatively affected by the pandemic.
For more: Travelers are booking trips online again, but they mostly want the same thing — Not a hotel
Expedia mentioned strength in its Vrbo business, which is an Airbnb rival. Booking also said its alternative accommodations, or AA, business, especially in Europe, was strong in the second quarter.
What to expect
Earnings: According to FactSet, analysts on average expect Airbnb to post a loss of 36 cents a share, or $264 million. Estimize, which gathers expectations from analysts, hedge-fund managers, executives and more, expects the company to post a loss of 27 cents a share.
Revenue: Analysts on average expect revenue of $1.26 billion, according to FactSet. Estimize is guiding for $1.3 billion.
Stock movement: Airbnb stock has risen after both its earnings reports so far. Airbnb shares are up about 1.4% so far this year through Tuesday’s session, while the S&P 500 index (S&P:SPX) has gained more than 18%.
What analysts are saying
Evercore ISI analysts expect Airbnb’s second-quarter gross booking value to exceed that from the second quarter of 2019 by 19%.
“We believe third-party data from AirDNA and industry data points suggest a strong travel recovery in AA travel trends, especially in June,” wrote Mark Mahaney of Evercore.
Looking forward, despite uncertainty surrounding the Delta variant and concern about Airbnb’s guidance, analysts point out that third-quarter seasonal slowdowns in travel bookings are not unusual. BTIG analyst Jake Fuller wrote that “traffic (and bookings) typically peaks in the June-July time frame and trends down from there.”
As for Airbnb’s overall business, Brent Thill of Jefferies said that as of Aug. 4, the company’s stock had risen a mere 3%. “We think the stock reflects investor concerns about sustainability of growth, longevity of use cases that emerged from the pandemic and inventory availability,” Thill wrote.