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Expedia buys two travel sites, tops estimates

Expedia Inc. (Nasdaq: EXPE), the online travel site of Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), said Monday it would buy two online travel companies, and for $177 million in stock. Expedia also posted a smaller-than-expected loss in its first quarter as a public company.

Under the terms of the deals, Expedia would issue about 2.6 million shares and options, valued at about $82 million, for, an online lodging reservation service. Expedia, which went public in November, also said it would issue about 3 million shares, options and warrants, valued at about $95 million, for Internet hotel consolidator

The combined companies' pro forma revenue was about $69 million for 1999 and $27 million for the December quarter. Pro forma gross profits were about $14 million in 1999 and about $5 million in the December quarter. Losses excluding charges were $25 million for 1999 and $6 million for the December quarter.

In a statement, Expedia said the two deals give it access to 65,000 lodging properties worldwide and a combined run rate of about 2 million room nights per year.

Expedia also topped estimates for its fiscal second quarter. Excluding one-time items, Expedia reported a loss of $5.9 million, or 16 cents a share. A First Call Corp. consensus estimate of two analysts predicted a loss of 29 cents a share.

Including charges related to stock compensation, Expedia reported a net loss of $23.2 million, or 64 cents a share. Stock-based compensation costs were $17.3 million.

Revenue rose to $17.8 million, up 127 percent from $7.9 million a year earlier. Transaction sales, which account for transaction commissions and fees, were $11.9 million in the quarter. Gross travel bookings on the Expedia network were $220 million, up 158 percent from a year ago.

Expedia went public in November. Microsoft owns 85 percent of Expedia's outstanding shares. Expedia is the first Internet property to be spun off by Microsoft.

Expedia competes with (Nasdaq: PCLN), Preview Travel (Nasdaq: PTVL), which merged with Sabre Holding's Travelocity, and Cheap Tickets (Nasdaq: CTIX) among others.>