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Priceline 2Q sales balloon 126 percent from 1Q

Tech Industry

Priceline.com Inc. (Nasdaq: PCLN) reported a smaller-than-expected second quarter loss Monday as the company continued its rapid sales growth. The company reported a net loss of $14.3 million, or 10 cents a share, on sales of $111.6 million. The company also plans to issue a convertible debt and stock offering.

First Call consensus called for a loss of 10 cents a share.

Priceline's second quarter sales were up a whopping 126 percent sequentially from $49.4 million in the first quarter. Compared to last year's sales of $7 million, sales were up 1,489 percent. Priceline also managed to trim its losses sequentially. In the first quarter, Priceline lost $17.2 million.

On an operating basis, Priceline, which went public in March, reported an operating loss of $16.2 million, compared to $17.6 million in the first quarter.

The company said gross profit for the second quarter was $10.5 million, up 96 percent from $5.4 million in the first quarter. In the second quarter a year ago, the Priceline had a gross loss of $900,000.

CEO Richard S. Braddock said Priceline's growth shows it can leverage its model into new categories. The company collected 1,030,000 guaranteed offers for its various products and services in the second quarter, excluding resubmitted offers. The company said 852,000 new customers used priceline.com during the second quarter based upon the number of unique credit card accounts. New users were up 60 percent from the first quarter.

Among Priceline's market segments, the company sold 440,000 airline tickets during the second quarter, up 137 percent from the previous quarter. Priceline's hotel service is now selling more than 10,000 room nights a week, roughly doubling sales in the first quarter.

The company also announced Continental Airlines agreed to use Priceline.com in a move that will increase its domestic sales inventory by more than 20 percent.

"The addition of Continental Airlines plays a strategic role in helping priceline.com leverage our rapidly growing market for name-your-price leisure airline tickets," said Braddock in a statement. "Continental will enable us to add seats to existing routes, expand to offer new routes, and fill more of our growing ticket demand."

As is custom with Priceline, Continental will get warrants based on Priceline's closing price of 97 13/32. Continental will get 1 million warrants, or 0.5 percent of the company's shares. Priceline will take a one-time charge of $90 million in the third quarter.

In other news, Priceline said it is issuing of $250 million of convertible subordinated notes and 6 million shares of common stock. Of the 6 million shares, 2 million are being sold by the company and 4 million are being sold by existing shareholders.

The 2 million shares will be used to " invest in further growth of Priceline.com's multiple product offerings." Part of the offering will cover options by Priceline employees. Priceline employees holding options that were vested as of June 1 will be permitted to sell a portion of their option shares during a period commencing July 20 and ending July 30.

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