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Priceline Triumphant Again, Groupon Mixed

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A tale of two Internet service firms -- both Priceline and Groupon (GRPN - Free Report) reported Q4 earnings after the bell Thursday. While the travel booking website company put together a healthy beat on the top and bottom lines, the daily deals firm topped revenue estimates but was woefully short on earnings, based on charges we accounted for.

Analysts had expected Groupon to come close to profitability but reported EPS of -$0.12 (actual, after stock-based compensation). The company was shooting for its third consecutive positive earnings surprise, but it was not to be. Worldwide mobile transaction mix was up 10% in the quarter, however, and Groupon's revenues are up 20% year over year.

Priceline, on the other hand, continues to please investors with beating analyst estimates, as it has done for at least the last six quarters. Earnings of $8.04 per share beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by 5%, and revenues of $1.54 billion in the quarter topped our expectations of $1.52 billion. Earnings also rose 25% year over year.

Groupon did give investors some things to look forward to in 2014, however: acquiring Korean e-commerce firm Ticket Monster and online fashion retailer ideeli should be accretive to Groupon's business. According to the 12 analysts currently following the company, 2014 should be its first year of profitability, at 8 cents per share for the full fiscal year.

Where Groupon saw weakness in the quarter was outside of North America and Europe: the Rest of World segment was down 11%. Also, with product head Jeffrey Holden recently having stepped down, perhaps investors are anticipating some tougher sledding ahead. Perhaps this is why, after initially trading up in the after-market, GRPN shares are down over 10%.

No such drama for Priceline; consistency almost always pays off. Shares of PCLN are up around 1.5% after hours, and now trade at a pretty hefty $1283.00 per share. Priceline is a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) stock, and has grown nearly 83% in the past year.

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