Wall Street Response Generally Positive to Expedia Plan to Spin-Off TripAdvisor

By Ed Silverstein April 11, 2011

Wall Street investors and analysts appear receptive to Expedia’s plan to spin-off TripAdvisor into a separate, publically traded company.

Reuters reported that shares of Expedia increased some 13 percent on Friday after the spin-off was announced.

TripAdvisor has been providing growth for Expedia in recent months, Reuters said. TripAdvisor gives tourists and others the chance to post reviews on hotels, restaurants and tourist destinations. It also lets users book reservations for flights or hotels.

Justin Patterson, an analyst with Morgan Keegan, told Reuters that TripAdvisor revenue recently increased about 34 percent, when comparing year over year, while the Expedia side of the business increased about 8 percent in 2010.

Expedia gives travel services for leisure and small business travelers, according to a report carried on TechZone360.

The spin-off is expected to be completed during the third quarter of 2011, according to Reuters.

Under the spin-off plan, TripAdvisor would have operations that include 18 travel and advertising brands, Reuters said. Expedia would be made up of “transaction brands” like Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Hotwire and carrentals.com, Reuters added.

TripAdvisor earned about $485 million in revenue during 2010, Reuters said. That translates to about 15 percent of Expedia's overall revenue, Reuters added.

According to a report from WebProNews.com, “It is anticipated that the transaction will take the form of a distribution of stock of TripAdvisor to Expedia stockholders or a reclassification of Expedia stock, with the holders of Expedia stock receiving a proportionate amount of TripAdvisor stock, in either case in a tax free transaction. It is expected that Expedia’s dual-class equity capital structure and the governance arrangements between Barry Diller and Liberty Media will be mirrored at TripAdvisor following the transaction.”

In his analysis of the spin-off, Herman Leung, an analyst with Deutsche Bank, told The Wall Street Journal, “Given the vague details in the press release, with the next update in 1Q earnings – many investors are wondering why the break up now? Clearly, TripAdvisor has long been considered the ‘crown jewel’ of the entire stake of Expedia, this move is generally viewed as unlocking value in its assets. Another view, could be that the business is being pressured by Google and a spin-out will allow the respective management teams to better focus on its respective units. Or Liberty Interactive (who owns 17.6% of EXPE shares) wants to adjust its ownership stake in one asset or another, so this transaction could make a more seamless transition.”

Ed Silverstein is a TechZone360 contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Janice McDuffee

TechZone360 Contributor

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