One Year Ago: Priceline Reports Q4 Loss

Originally published on January 5, 2000 and brought to you today as a time capsule.

Despite robust 1999 sales that approached the US$500 million mark, name-your-price pioneer Priceline.com (Nasdaq: PCLN) has reported a net loss for the second consecutive quarter.

The Stamford, Connecticut-based company announced that it expects fourth-quarter revenue to top out at $168 million, giving it a total of an estimated $481 million for the year.

The company also said that it expects a fourth quarter gross profit of $22.7 million and a year-end figure of $57.9 million. The gross profit margin of 13.5 percent for the quarter was its highest yet, Priceline said.

However, like most e-commerce companies, a black cloud remains over its financial statements. The company did not disclose the amount, but said that it expects the fourth-quarter net loss to be less than the $11.9 million loss for the third quarter.

Airline Take-Off

Once again, airline ticket sales led the way for the company. Priceline sold over 700,000 tickets in the quarter, up 12 percent over third quarter figures. Delta, Continental, American, US Airways, Northwest, TWA, United and America West are the major U.S. carriers that sell tickets through Priceline.

More than 20 international airways also participate in its service, Priceline said. The company said that it accounts for over 3 percent of airline tickets sold in the United States, a phenomenal achievement for a first-year operation.

Priceline said it added 972,000 unique customers for the quarter, bringing its total customer base to nearly four million. Those customers made 1.4 million unique purchase offers during the quarter. Some 35 percent of all offers are from repeat customers, the company added.

Erasing Red Ink

Despite the red ink, priceline CEO Richard Braddock said that he expects the company to book a strong upcoming quarter and that growth will accelerate at a faster pace.

Priceline points out that American Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways did not join its service until midway through the fourth quarter, so the full impact of their participation will not start to emerge until next quarter.

The company, which also offers its “name-your-price” service for hotel rooms, home mortgages, groceries and new cars, will release its formal financial statements later this month.

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