Analysts had been too bullish on Internet travel site TripAdvisor Inc. ( TRIP ) to start off the year. After the company gave weak guidance, earnings are now projected to grow only in the mid-single digits in 2013. That makes this Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell) an expensive play with a forward P/E of 32.6.
TripAdvisor is now one of the world's largest travel sites, offering traveler reviews of hotels, attractions and restaurants from around the globe. The site operates in 30 countries, including in China under the name daodao.com.
But the company also operates 19 other travel brands including such sites like cruisecritic.com, familyvacationcritic.com, flipkey.com, seatguru.com and virtualtourist.com.
On Apr 9, TripAdvisor announced it was acquiring Jetsetter.com, an upscale members only travel booking site. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Full Year Guidance Light
In February, the company's full year 2013 guidance was a disappointment as investment spending was expected to increase. Margins are expected to be the lowest in 5 years while the company adjusts to the mobile platform and absorbs acquisitions.
Despite the seemingly good news surrounding the company (don't we all use TripAdvisor to plan our travel?), the analysts couldn't ignore the worse-than-expected guidance. 9 estimates have been cut for 2013 over the last 2 months which has sent the Zacks Consensus down to $1.49 from $1.67.
Earnings are expected to grow just 6.5% in 2013. For investors, you'll pay a hefty price for little growth as the stock trades with a forward P/E of 32.6.
The company has only been public for 3 years, but its current valuation makes it the most expensive of its short public life.
Shares are trading near the 52-week high. It is expected to report first quarter earnings on May 7.
While TripAdvisor is a Strong Sell, that doesn't mean you have to avoid all of the Internet plays that rely on consumer reviews. Consider Angie's List ( ANGI ) instead. It is a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) which is expected to grow earnings 47% this year.
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