With the busy spring and summer travel season starting, many on Wall Street are reviewing their numbers in what is expected to be one the of the busiest seasons in memory due to lower oil prices. The online travel industry is expected to be red-hot, and TripAdvisor Inc. (NASDAQ: TRIP) new Instant Booking is the most asked about and debated topic on Wall Street for online travel. A new report from UBS highlights trends in the industry, and the firm expects more partnerships to be formed.
While the analysts are quick to point out that Wall Street earnings estimates may be high. The UBS team also cites a potential for fewer and lower quality booking partners and higher cart abandonment rates. With all of that in mind, the industry is one that ever more people are using, and a busier than expected season might move the metrics.
The UBS analysts currently have a Buy rating on four stocks: Expedia Inc. (NASDAQ: EXPE), Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL), HomeAway Inc. (NASDAQ: AWAY) and Priceline Group Inc. (NASDAQ: PCLN).
Expedia has absolutely exploded price-wise over the past year, and more gains are expected, especially after the company has picked up the pace in television advertising. Expedia provides travel products and services to leisure and corporate travelers, offline retail travel agents, and travel service providers through a portfolio of brands, including Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Hotwire.com, Expedia Affiliate Network, Classic Vacations, Expedia Local Expert, Egencia, Expedia CruiseShipCenters, eLong and Venere.com.
Expedia investors are paid a 0.8% dividend. UBS has a $102 target price for the stock. The Thomson/First Call consensus price target is $91.36. Expedia closed Monday at $95.40 a share.
Google is considered the “wild card” in the space by the UBS team, and here is one reason why. The Google Flights tool has stood in the shadow of the other, more well-known online travel leaders, but some on Wall Street think the new and updated features could help Flights surpass them all. Beyond finding the cheapest flights, the tool now also shows year-round price changes, money-saving destination swaps and potential travel delays. Google Flights also separates hotel and flight options so you are not plagued with hotel deals if your lodging is already set.
The UBS price target for the Internet giant is $670, and the consensus target is $645. Down almost 7% over the past 12 months, Google is one of the more compelling tech stocks. Shares closed Monday at $558.81.
The world’s largest marketplace for vacation renting has a total of 890,000 paid listings on its system. The UBS team sees the stock as primed for a turnaround as it has underperformed huge over the past year, down a staggering 27%.
Another solid part of the company is HomeAway Software, which is the leading provider of property management software for professional vacation rental managers. HomeAway Software solutions consist of powerful productivity tools that automate key vacation rental management tasks, streamline operations and help vacation rental managers maximize their online potential through world-class websites, booking engines and the industry’s leading distribution programs.
UBS has a $37 price objective on HomeAway, and the consensus target is lower at $35.39. The stock closed Monday at $31.30 a share.
Priceline operates Booking.com, which provides online accommodation reservation services, and Priceline.com, which offers hotel, rental car and airline ticket reservations services, as well as vacation packages and cruises through its Name Your Own Price and Express Deals travel services.
Priceline also operates Agoda.com, an online accommodation reservation service for consumers in the Asia-Pacific region, and RentalCars.com, which offers car rental reservation services. In addition, the company offers KAYAK Websites and mobile apps that allow consumers to compare airline ticket, hotel reservation, and rental car reservation information from various travel Websites at once, as well as online restaurant reservation services to consumers and reservation management services to restaurants under the OpenTable brand name.
Trading at just 17.5 times fiscal year 2016 earnings, the travel giant is seen by many Wall Street analysts as an “open-ended” growth story. The UBS price target is $1,315, and the consensus target is $1,364.86. Shares closed trading on Monday at $1,181.18.
There are clearly two ways to play the travel angle. Go with Google and get the rest of what the Internet leader offers, or pick one of the companies specifically focused on travel. Either way, all the UBS picks make good sense for aggressive growth accounts.