Priceline stock flight and the dot-com bubble

The online travel company known for its name-your-price approach is riding high in the stock market. Shares of Priceline.com are close to $1,000, within sight of their peak during the 1990s dot-com boom. That’s a remarkable rebound for a company that nearly zeroed out a decade ago after the dot-com bust.

Rafat Ali, the CEO of the travel industry website Skift.com, says most people don’t realize Priceline is the second-largest travel company in the world. “It’s a very under-appreciated fact,” Ali says. “When you tell this to people, their minds usually tend to get blown.”

It almost wasn’t that way. Henry Blodget is the editor of Business Insider and a former stock analyst. He says the company went public to tremendous hype at the height of the dot-com boom.

“And then completely collapsed,” he says. “Down 99 percent. And pretty everybody much wrote the company off for dead.”

Blodget says it’s back thanks to careful management and smart investments.

“They have just been quietly putting up the numbers quarter after quarter for the last five to 10 years and that’s what’s delivered it,” Blodget says.

Priceline recently bought the travel site Kayak. It also owns rentalcars.com and the hotel site booking.com.

Ali says that’s a major reason for Priceline’s success.

“The secret in the travel industry is that airline bookings make no money,” he says. “Hotels are where the money is made.”

Scott Kessler is an equity analyst with S&P Capital IQ. He says this is being called the most remarkable turnaround in the history of the Internet.

“And I think that’s a fair characterization in many respects,” Kessler says. “The stock over the last 10 years has risen more than 3,000 percent.”

Analysts say there’s still room for Priceline to grow, especially in emerging markets like Asia and Latin America.


How does Priceline's rise compare to other dot-com darlings of its era? Check out our interactive chart to track share prices at its highest and lowest.

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