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Earnings Results: Airbnb earnings outperform pre-pandemic results, but forecast suggests it may not last

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Airbnb Inc. didn’t just stage a dramatic recovery from last year’s pandemic-induced slowdown this spring — it performed better than before COVID-19 upended everything.

Airbnb
ABNB,
+2.02%

reported Thursday that second-quarter revenue nearly quadrupled to $1.3 billion from $335 million in the year-ago quarter, beating analysts’ expectation of $1.26 billion. That’s up 299% year over year, and is a 10% increase from the second quarter of 2019.

Gross booking value climbed to $13.4 billion, blowing past analysts’ expectations of $11.56 billion. That’s a 320% increase year over year, and a 37% improvement over the second quarter of 2019. Nights and experiences booked rose 197% year over year to 83.1 million, though they were down 1% from the same period in 2019.

Airbnb also narrowed its loss to $68 million, or 11 cents a share, from a loss of $576 million, or $2.18 a share, in the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was $217 million, which includes stock-based compensation and other costs. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had forecast a loss of $264 million, or 36 cents a share.

The lodging-booking company’s shares initially gained about 3% after hours Thursday, then dropped into negative territory. The stock closed the extended session down 4.5% after rising 2% in the regular session to close at $151.15. 

Airbnb, which provides a platform for home and apartment bookings, outperformed its biggest competitors in online-travel booking, Expedia Group Inc.
EXPE,
+0.17%

and Booking Holdings Inc.
BKNG,
-0.32%
,
whose recently reported second-quarter revenue and gross bookings remained lower than 2019 levels.

“Airbnb is leading the travel rebound,” said Brian Chesky, chief executive of Airbnb, in a statement. On the earnings call, he said he was “bullish” on what’s coming next, especially as cross-border travel comes back.

Chief Financial Officer Dave Stephenson said on the call that stays of seven days or longer comprised 50% of the company’s nights, adding that Airbnb has “taken share from traditional accommodations.”

But, like Expedia and Booking, Airbnb cited continued uncertainty over the pandemic and the delta variant in not providing specific third-quarter guidance, though it expects some significant year-over-year improvements.

“We expect Q3 2021 revenue to be our strongest quarterly revenue on record and to deliver the highest Adjusted EBITDA dollars and margin ever,” Airbnb said in a letter to shareholders. Though the company expects bookings to grow year over year, it also expects them to decline from this year’s second quarter and the same period in 2019.

“The big headline is, delta matters,” James Hardiman, analyst for Wedbush Securities, told MarketWatch. Although he said Airbnb is in a better position than its competition because of its alternative-accommodations offerings, he said the expectation was that the company’s third-quarter bookings would exceed that of 2019 levels.

“You need that cross-border and long-distance travel to come back,” Hardiman said.

Shares of Airbnb are up 2% year to date, while the S&P 500 Index
SPX,
+0.30%

has risen nearly 19% so far this year.

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