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Expedia profit plunges 90 percent because of Hawaii tax dispute

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 12:47 p.m. HST, Feb 05, 2013

BELLEVUE, Wash. >> Soaring hotel bookings pushed revenue higher at Expedia Inc., but the online travel agency’s fourth-quarter profit fell 90 percent because of money it set aside to appeal a tax dispute in Hawaii.

Nights booked for hotel stays jumped 33 percent as demand grew for a second straight quarter in Europe, Asia and the Americas. Room nights rose 19 percent in the U.S., the best gain in two years. The average room rate fell 3 percent.

Investors seemed to focus less on the bottom line and more on the strong hotel sales and surprising 24 percent jump in revenue. Expedia shares rose in after-hours trading, adding to gains during the regular session.

Expedia said that it earned $6.7 million, or 5 cents per share, down from $70.3 million, or 44 cents per share, in the fourth quarter of 2011.

The results included $111 million that Expedia expects to pay to appeal a ruling on the way that hotel-occupancy taxes are calculated in Hawaii. Expedia could get back some or all of the money if it wins on appeal. 

Hawaii officials are pursuing several online travel companies that they say owe the state $170 million in unpaid hotel room taxes. The officials say that excise taxes should be calculated on the full amount that consumers pay for the room, not the lower wholesale rate that the travel agencies paid before marking them up.

Expedia said that without the tax issue and other one-items, it would have earned 63 cents per share. Analysts surveyed by FactSet were expecting 65 cents per share.

Revenue rose to $974.9 million from $787.1 million, easily beating the $933.1 million forecast of analysts.

Expedia sold 12 percent more airline tickets than a year before, with the average fare 2 percent higher than a year earlier.

Bellevue-based Expedia operates several travel websites including Expedia.com, Hotels.com and Hotwire.

Expedia’s shares rose $2.34, or 3.6 percent, to $67.50 in regular trading, and were up another $2.92, or 4.3 percent, to $70.42, in extended trading after the report. 

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Hapa_Haole_Boy wrote:
Hawaii, for wont of plucking more and more feathers, is going to kill the golden goose....
on February 5,2013 | 11:51AM
primo1 wrote:
Yup. This makes no sense...if I buy something from you for a dollar I pay excise (sales) tax on that dollar, not the amount that I turn around and sell it for. Leave it to our bureaucrats to mess things up as usual...
on February 5,2013 | 02:13PM
HOSSANA wrote:
Instead of implementing more taxes, the gov should start implementing cuts which would help the economy.
on February 5,2013 | 12:10PM
loquaciousone wrote:
Let's not sell the Gov short now.
on February 5,2013 | 02:27PM
sparkyzane wrote:
I see what you did there.
on February 5,2013 | 03:02PM
entrkn wrote:
... and Expedia would never distort facts or tell lies about anything, you have their word on it.
on February 5,2013 | 12:34PM
LizKauai wrote:
There's got to be a win-win solution ... or else everyone loses.
on February 5,2013 | 01:39PM
localguy wrote:
Even if the state was to receive the full $170 million it would be squandered in not time. Either into the black hole of the state general fund, taken by unions for more pay raises, BOE/DOE/HSTA would waste it as they do with most of their funds, or best of all, our elected bureaucrats would raid it for their pet projects. Just as they raided the tobacco settlement fund and road maintenance fund. This is what our bureaucrats do, waste our money.
on February 5,2013 | 07:10PM
peanutgallery wrote:
...and we let them.
on February 6,2013 | 03:02AM
goodday wrote:
funny you say it's going to pay raises because government workers have had only paycuts for the last 4 years.
on February 6,2013 | 03:24AM
mokebla wrote:
This is so funny, taxes and more taxes. What a bunch of greedy goverment Hawai'i has. Don't hurt the hands that feeds you, but then again who put this clowns in office? The clowns that voted for them! This is why this party is running out of pork, :-O!
on February 6,2013 | 03:36AM
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