May 6, 2009 / 7:13 PM / 10 years ago

Orbitz shares up as Q1 beats forecasts

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Shares of Orbitz Worldwide OWW.N gained 16 percent on Wednesday after the online travel company reported first-quarter results that beat expectations excluding one-time items and despite a decline in bookings.

The company, which has been hit hard by slumping travel demand, earned 1 cent per share, excluding a $332 million non-cash charge related to the decline in value of its assets and stock price.

That compared with a Wall Street consensus forecast for a loss of 2 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates.

With the charge included, the company posted a net loss.

Shares of Orbitz were up 16 percent at $2.45 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The stock fell about 65 percent in the first quarter.

“The long-term question about when the recovery is going to happen, I think is still an open question,” Chief Executive Barney Harford told Reuters. “We are certainly seeing in our channel some highlights and strong levels of growth.”

Harford noted, in particular, increased hotel bookings in Las Vegas, the Caribbean and Hawaii.

Orbitz, which owns major travel sites and, said its quarterly net loss widened to $336 million, or $4.02 per share, compared with a loss of $15 million, or 18 cents per share, a year earlier.

The total value of Orbitz’s bookings was $2.28 billion, down 17 percent from a year earlier. Domestic bookings decreased 13 percent, and international bookings decreased 36 percent.

Online travel agencies like Orbitz, PCLN.O and Expedia Inc (EXPE.O) have been working to spur bookings with fee waivers and sales as the economic recession crimps demand for business and leisure trips.

Harford told Reuters that some of its promotional hotel and airline booking fee waivers could become permanent.

Cost cutting and recent revenue-generating steps “certainly gives us the flexibility to sustain the actions if we choose to do so,” he said.

Reporting by Kyle Peterson; Editing by Derek Caney, Dave Zimmerman, Tim Dobbyn

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