The Priceline Group tanked after the Brexit vote as investors became concerned about the company because of its massive exposure to the European travel market. However, the online travel company’s stock is making a comeback along with the rest of the market. Analysts from Barclays upgraded Priceline last week, and now Jefferies analysts have issued a positive report on the stock.
Brexit increases U.K. travel interest… for now
Many analysts seem to agree that Brexit won’t be as bad for Priceline as investors think it will be, and a new survey supports this. Deutsche Bank analysts pointed to an article from Airwise which suggested a large jump in flight queries following Brexit, with Priceline-owned Kayak recording a 54% increase in U.S. searches for fares to the U.K. Also searches from the U.K. to the U.S. soared 46%.
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Deutsche Bank analysts say U.S. travelers may be considering a trip to the U.K. in order to benefit from the weakening British pound. They also suggest that U.K. travelers might be searching for deals because they expect prices to increase. They say that such activities might not go on for very long, but they do find them to be “interesting” anyway.
Priceline selloff too extreme
Jefferies analyst Brian Fitzgerald and team called the initial reaction to Brexit “excessive,” particularly in terms of how much Priceline shares pulled back. They have a Buy rating and $1,660 per share price target on the online travel company. They also believe the pullback created a “compelling entry point” for investors.
They note that although Priceline has the highest European exposure of all major online travel agencies, it has very low exposure to the pound at less than 1% of its revenue. It has a much higher exposure to the euro at about 71% of its revenue, although it is naturally hedged against changes in the euro through Booking.com, which is headquartered in Amsterdam. Because the majority of Priceline’s euro-denominated revenue is booked through the Netherlands, they estimate the company’s net exposure to the currency at less than 10%. They add that management has also been using active hedging for years, so they see the impact on earnings per share being limited to the low single digits.
The Jefferies team also noted that the falling pound and euro make travel to Europe cheaper for U.S. and other non-European travelers, so inbound travel will likely offset falling outbound travel from Europe. They believe Europeans on the continent will still travel domestically and within the EU, unless a serious recession occurs.
Shares of Priceline surged by as much as 3.53% to $1,246.81 during regular trading hours on Wednesday.