Zacks Investment Research Lowers Priceline Group (PCLN) to Sell

Priceline Group (NASDAQ:PCLN) was downgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “sell” rating in a report released on Tuesday, January 2nd.

According to Zacks, “Priceline.com is benefiting from continued momentum in both agency and merchant businesses. Room nights and Rental cars have performed impressively. We remain positive about the secular growth trend in the online travel booking market, Priceline’s strong position in international markets, growth opportunities in the domestic market, good execution, prudent marketing strategy and strong financial position are positives. At the same time, weaker ADRs and airline tickets, macro headwinds, increasing advertising spend and occupancy tax-related litigation remain overhangs. Over the last one year, the stock has underperformed the industry it belongs to.”

Several other equities research analysts have also recently commented on PCLN. Bank of America reissued a “buy” rating and set a $2,150.00 price target on shares of Priceline Group in a research report on Tuesday, September 26th. Morgan Stanley reaffirmed an “overweight” rating and issued a $2,100.00 target price (up from $2,050.00) on shares of Priceline Group in a report on Monday, October 2nd. SunTrust Banks reaffirmed a “buy” rating and issued a $2,200.00 target price on shares of Priceline Group in a report on Wednesday, October 4th. Barclays reaffirmed a “buy” rating and issued a $2,150.00 target price on shares of Priceline Group in a report on Wednesday, October 11th. Finally, Deutsche Bank reaffirmed a “hold” rating and issued a $2,050.00 target price on shares of Priceline Group in a report on Tuesday, October 24th. Eleven equities research analysts have rated the stock with a hold rating, twenty-one have given a buy rating and one has issued a strong buy rating to the stock. Priceline Group presently has an average rating of “Buy” and an average target price of $2,010.80.

Shares of Priceline Group (NASDAQ PCLN) traded up $20.19 during midday trading on Tuesday, reaching $1,893.10. 385,800 shares of the company were exchanged, compared to its average volume of 442,237. The firm has a market cap of $93,870.00, a price-to-earnings ratio of 26.53, a PEG ratio of 1.28 and a beta of 1.39. The company has a debt-to-equity ratio of 0.68, a quick ratio of 2.52 and a current ratio of 2.52. Priceline Group has a 12-month low of $1,516.00 and a 12-month high of $2,067.99.

Priceline Group (NASDAQ:PCLN) last announced its earnings results on Monday, November 6th. The business services provider reported $35.22 earnings per share for the quarter, topping the Zacks’ consensus estimate of $34.31 by $0.91. Priceline Group had a net margin of 29.20% and a return on equity of 33.02%. The firm had revenue of $4.43 billion during the quarter, compared to analyst estimates of $4.34 billion. During the same period in the prior year, the business earned $29.69 EPS. The company’s revenue for the quarter was up 20.1% compared to the same quarter last year. analysts expect that Priceline Group will post 74.42 earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

In related news, CEO Gillian Tans sold 123 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, November 15th. The shares were sold at an average price of $1,715.78, for a total value of $211,040.94. The sale was disclosed in a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available at this hyperlink. Also, Director Jan L. Docter sold 1,200 shares of the stock in a transaction that occurred on Wednesday, November 22nd. The shares were sold at an average price of $1,764.52, for a total transaction of $2,117,424.00. Following the completion of the transaction, the director now directly owns 142 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $250,561.84. The disclosure for this sale can be found here. In the last three months, insiders sold 1,567 shares of company stock valued at $2,781,444. 0.24% of the stock is owned by insiders.

Several hedge funds have recently added to or reduced their stakes in PCLN. Addenda Capital Inc. raised its stake in Priceline Group by 4.8% during the fourth quarter. Addenda Capital Inc. now owns 4,150 shares of the business services provider’s stock worth $7,211,000 after buying an additional 190 shares during the last quarter. Daiwa SB Investments Ltd. raised its stake in Priceline Group by 48.8% during the fourth quarter. Daiwa SB Investments Ltd. now owns 610 shares of the business services provider’s stock worth $1,060,000 after buying an additional 200 shares during the last quarter. DnB Asset Management AS raised its stake in Priceline Group by 174.6% during the fourth quarter. DnB Asset Management AS now owns 65,334 shares of the business services provider’s stock worth $113,534,000 after buying an additional 41,545 shares during the last quarter. Capital Investment Services of America Inc. raised its stake in Priceline Group by 1.7% during the fourth quarter. Capital Investment Services of America Inc. now owns 4,980 shares of the business services provider’s stock worth $8,654,000 after buying an additional 81 shares during the last quarter. Finally, Progressive Investment Management Corp raised its stake in Priceline Group by 4.3% during the fourth quarter. Progressive Investment Management Corp now owns 2,109 shares of the business services provider’s stock worth $3,665,000 after buying an additional 87 shares during the last quarter. 94.39% of the stock is owned by hedge funds and other institutional investors.

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About Priceline Group

The Priceline Group Inc is a provider of travel and restaurant online reservation and related services. The Company, through its online travel companies (OTCs), connects consumers wishing to make travel reservations with providers of travel services across the world. It offers consumers an array of accommodation reservations (including hotels, bed and breakfasts, hostels, apartments, vacation rentals and other properties) through its Booking.com, priceline.com and agoda.com brands.

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