By Jeremy C. Owens
Booking Holdings Inc. continued to struggle with the decline of the travel industry in the first three months of 2021, as revenue was cut in half from a year ago.
Booking /zigman2/quotes/203576210/composite BKNG -0.86% , a collection of online travel and experience web sites formerly known as Priceline, reported Wednesday first-quarter losses of $55 million, or $1.34 a share, on revenue of $1.14 billion, a sharp decrease from $2.29 billion in net revenue in the same period a year ago, when the COVID-19 pandemic was just beginning. After adjusting for tax impacts and other factors, Booking’s losses ballooned to $5.26 a share, down from adjusted earnings of $3.77 a share a year ago.
Analysts on average expected adjusted losses of $5.97 a share on sales of $1.16 billion, according to FactSet. After dipping 1% initially, shares ended after-hours trading flat, after closing with a 1.9% daily decline at $2,337.92.
Booking has been slammed by the reduction in travel amid the global coronavirus pandemic, but this will be the last period in which it faces comparisons to performance from before the pandemic, which mostly put a halt on the travel industry. While Booking did not provide a full forecast for the second quarter, Chief Executive Glenn Fogel noted “encouraging signs” of a rebound.
“We saw encouraging signs of improving booking trends in the first quarter that continued into April, with notable strength in the U.S.,” Fogel said in a statement. “While we expect there will be continued volatility in the recovery of global travel demand, our teams across Booking Holdings will continue their hard work to strengthen the positioning of our company and execute against our key strategic priorities.”
The decline in travel caused a big dip in Booking shares in February 2020, but the stock has climbed back above where it was before that dip — and then some. Shares are up 68.3% in the past year, as the S&P 500 index /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.19% has gained 45.2%.