Stock Watch: Ebookers Falls After First-Quarter Loss

Ebookers.com (Nasdaq: EBKR) fell 1 7/8 Monday to 15 1/2 after the UK-based online travel company reported a first-quarter loss, and a brokerage firm issued a report pointing out potential troubles for Internet airline and hotel bookers.

Though sales increased tenfold from the fourth quarter and the number of customers rose, Ebookers posted a loss of 59 cents a share, before compensation costs.

Chief Executive Officer Dinesh Dhamija was upbeat in a statement announcing the results, which the company said beat expectations as far as revenue and the bottom line. “Following an incredibly active first quarter in terms of growing the business and brand recognition across Europe, it is encouraging that our revenues have increased by more than the market had anticipated, consolidating our position as the clear leader in the European online travel market, with a presence in 10 countries,” he said.

That market could be shrinking, according to a report issued Monday by Bear Stearns & Company. The report “pointed out what a lot of people already knew,” said David Kathman, stock analyst at Morningstar, Inc., saying competition from the airline industry itself, which is putting together an Internet reservations network, will put pressure on online travel companies.

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