Priceline.com Inc. (Nasdaq: PCLN) posted a smaller-than-expected loss in its third quarter Thursday, losing $11.9 million, or 8 cents a share, on sales of $152.2 million.
First Call consensus expected the online travel company to lose 10 cents a share in the quarter.
Its shares closed up 1 1/8 to 67 7/8 ahead of the earnings report.
The $152.2 million in sales represents a staggering 1,551 percent improvement versus the year-ago quarter when it lost $19.8 million on sales of only $9.2 million.
In the quarter, Priceline.com's added 908,000 new customers in the quarter, up 21 percent from the 748,000 it added in the second quarter.
"Revenues grew as we built a strong base of first-time and repeat customers through customer satisfaction, advertising and word-of-mouth," said CEO Richard Braddock in a prepared release., Priceline.com's chairman and CEO. ``In addition to attracting 908,000 new customers in the third quarter, repeat users during the quarter made up 31% of all net unique offers."
Priceline.com shares rallied up to a 52-week high of 165 before sliding to a low of 53 1/2 in September.
Nine of the 10 analysts following the stock rate it either a "buy" or "strong buy."
First Call consensus expects it to lose 41 cents a share in the fiscal year.