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Ctrip.com Shares Soar 13% As Q1 Results Top View, Despite Lower Margins

Shares of Ctrip.com International Ltd. (CTRP) soared more than 13 percent in extended trading on Thursday after the Chinese travel services provider reported results for the first quarter that came in above analysts' expectations.

The company also reported a profit for the quarter that declined 26 percent from last year, as strong revenue growth was more than offset by sharply lower operating margins amid higher operating expenses.

Looking ahead to the full-year 2013, the company forecast net revenue growth of about 15 to 20 percent from the prior-year period.

Ctrip.com International provides travel service of hotel accommodations, airline tickets, packaged tours and corporate travel management in China.

"We are glad to report strong results in the first quarter of 2013. We have made solid progress and gained market shares across major business lines," Chairman and CEO James Liang said in a statement.

Shanghai-based Ctrip.com reported net income of RMB 153.47 million or $24.71 million for the first quarter, down 26 percent from RMB 208.37 million in the prior-year quarter. Earnings per ADS declined to RMB 1.10 or $0.18 from RMB 1.37 or $0.22 last year.

Excluding share-based compensation charges, adjusted net income for the quarter was RMB 265 million or $43 million, down 14 percent from RMB 309.05 million in the prior-year quarter. Earnings per ADS were RMB 1.87 or $0.30, compared to RMB 2.03 or $0.32 a year ago.

Total revenues for the quarter increased 27 percent to RMB 1.23 billion or $198 million from RMB 964 million in the same quarter last year.

Net revenues grew 27 percent to RMB 1.16 billion or $187 million from RMB 911 million in the prior-year quarter.

On average, analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected the company to earn $0.12 per share for the quarter on revenues of $172.63 million. Analysts' estimates typically exclude special items.

Ctrip.com's hotel reservation revenues for the first quarter grew 23 percent to RMB 451 billion or $73 million, primarily driven by a 41 percent increase in hotel reservation volume, partly offset by a 13 percent decline in commission per room night amid promotional activities.

Air ticket booking revenues rose 27 percent to RMB 457 million or $74 million, reflecting an increase in air tickets sales volume.

Packaged-tour revenues surged 41 percent to RMB 235 million or $38 million, due to the increase of leisure travel volume. Corporate travel revenues grew 31 percent to RMB 51 million or $8 million, driven by the increased corporate travel demand from business activities.

Operating margins for the quarter contracted 500 percentage points to 14 percent, as gross margin declined 100 basis points and operating expenses as a percentage of revenues improved 300 basis points from the year-ago quarter.

Looking ahead to fiscal 2013, Ctrip.com forecasts net revenue growth of about 15 to 20 percent from the prior year. Analysts expect the company to report revenues of $795.29 million.

"We will continue to focus on our mobile strategy, improve price competitiveness, strengthen partner relationships, and enhance marketing effectiveness. Our goal is to become the one-stop travel platform with best products, best services, and best prices for our customers," Liang added.

CTRP closed Wednesday's regular trading session at $23.80, up $0.26 or 1.10% on a volume of 3.40 million shares. The stock soared a further $3.20 or $13.45% in after-hours trading.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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