Priceline investors applaud Shatner's return
After a rare revenue miss, the discount travel company decides to bring back its infamous 'Negotiator.'
Investors approved the death-defying return of the 80-year-old actor -- whose character appeared to die in January in a fiery bus explosion -- sending Priceline shares up 1.6% Wednesday to $573.88. In a recent customer survey, 94% of respondents said they wanted the 80-year old actor to return.
The Negotiator's comeback is just what investors needed after the stock took a $100 tumble in one day earlier this month. The company reported second-quarter earnings on Aug. 7, and despite an earnings beat and a slight miss on revenue, the stock plunged after guidance for the current quarter came in way below analyst estimates. Booking activity was expected to deteriorate through the first half of 2012.
Here's the commercial showing the Negotiator's "last deal":
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The new commercial features Shatner at the beach, staring at the ocean and holding a surfboard, the Associated Press reports. "Surfing is my life now," he says. "We had such a positive response to the ad where we appeared to throw him over a cliff that we wanted to find a creative way to bring him back," Brett Keller, chief marketing officer for Priceline.com, told the AP. (You can see the new ad here.)
After the last earnings report, Priceline shares fell below $600 and have yet to recover. This is a company that had beaten the midpoint of bookings since its first quarter in 2009 by an average of 7%. Analysts at Piper Jaffray concluded that the company's third-quarter guidance was conservative due to international bookings growth being "more significantly impacted by macro slowness vs. what we had expected after aggregating industry and competitive company data points throughout Q2."
Where will shares go from here? The stock reached a trading high Wednesday of $574.86, but has since slumped to just above $573. Once Shatner returns to commercials, consumers may use Priceline once again over such competitors as Expedia (EXPE), Orbitz (OWW), Travelzoo (TZOO) and Ctrip.com (CTRP), all of which have been trending upward recently (with the exception of Orbitz, which traded down 7% during Wednesday trading).
Yes, Priceline's second-quarter revenue miss was rare, but with bookings remaining strong and the fearless Negotiator returning to the screen, the company may be surging once again. Hopefully Shatner doesn't sell off his shares when they bottom this time around.
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