Online travel agency (OTA) Booking Holdings(NASDAQ: BKNG) was enjoying the warmth and sunshine of earnings season on Friday. Following the release of its latest quarterly results, the company's shares were trading more than 9% higher in late-session action. At that point, they were trouncing the essentially flat performance of the S&P 500 index.
After market hours Thursday, Booking Holdings -- a conglomerate of digital travel assets such as Booking.com, Priceline.com, and Kayak.com -- announced its second-quarter earnings. The company earned $5.5 billion, representing a very healthy 27% increase year over year. That was on the back of gross travel bookings that shot 15% higher to just under $40 billion.
Those rises paled in comparison to the improvement in adjusted net income, which zoomed 79% higher to $1.4 billion, or $37.62 per share.
Like other OTAs and businesses in the travel industry, Booking Holdings is reaping the benefits of a busy summer tourism season. More encouragingly, the company expects the industry to set new records in the current third quarter.
In its earnings release, Booking Holdings also uttered the two magic words that are captivating stock investors these days: artificial intelligence (AI). It said that it sees great potential in the generative-AI travel assistants it recently announced for its flagship sites Booking.com and Priceline.com.
It's still very early days for AI as a commonplace business tool, and it's hard to judge how implementing it will affect Booking Holdings specifically. It shows that the company is forward-thinking, though, and willing to devote capital and resources to bolstering its technology.
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