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Stock Analyst Update

TripAdvisor Is Just Getting Started

We expect improving sales and profitability to continue.

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 TripAdvisor’s (TRIP) strong first-quarter results confirmed our view that the market has been discounting the company's network advantage. Past initiatives (TV campaign and new user interface) and a solid network of 450 million monthly visitors with an industry-leading supply of experience and review content drove improving sales (up 7% on a two-year-stack basis versus 5% averaged through 2017) and EBITDA (up 10% and the strongest rise since late 2014). This supports our thesis that the company will see its sales reaccelerate to a sustained low-double-digit growth rate in 2019 (versus a low-single-digit lift in 2018), along with operating margins averaging low double digits the next five years, versus 8% in 2017. We expect no meaningful change to our $55 fair value estimate.

Starting in the third quarter of 2017, ad partners looked to improve their profitability on meta channels, leading to pricing pressure for TripAdvisor. We view this headwind as a reset versus a structural issue, given the traffic and quality of leads TripAdvisor provides. That said, we are pleased that TripAdvisor’s meta platform (50% of sales) continued to see stabilization in pricing despite key peer Trivago witnessing ongoing pressure, which we believe points to the superior demand and supply of TripAdvisor’s network and past initiatives to improve the user experience. As a result, TripAdvisor’s total platform sales and revenue per hotel shopper grew 1% and dropped 9% on a two-year-stack basis, both the strongest performance seen in several quarters. We continue to see slight sales declines this year in the hotel segment, followed by a sustained return to growth in 2019.

TripAdvisor’s nonhotel (21% of sales) sustained a mid-50s two-year-stack sales lift. The company remains the leader in experiences and increased its bookable content in that segment by 80% to 104,000 attractions. We don’t plan much change to our 18% annual sales forecast for nonhotel over the next five years.

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Dan Wasiolek does not own (actual or beneficial) shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar’s editorial policies.

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