Booking Holdings’ CEO comments on global travel demand after Q1 loss

By: Wajeeh Khan
Wajeeh Khan
Wajeeh is an active follower of world affairs, technology, an avid reader, and loves to play table tennis in his free… read more.
on May 6, 2021
  • Booking Holdings' revenue slides by 50% in the fiscal first quarter.
  • Chief executive Glenn Fogel says performance will recover in Q2.
  • Booking Holdings opened 2% down in the stock market on Thursday.

Booking Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: BKNG) said late on Wednesday its revenue tanked 50% in the fiscal first quarter as the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic continued to restrict travel and tourism. The company reported £39.65 million of loss (97 pence per share) in Q1.

The travel technology company’s revenue came in slightly lower than the FactSet consensus, but on an adjusted basis, its per-share loss was narrower than expected. Consequently, Booking Holdings opened about 2% down in the stock market on Thursday.

CEO Glenn Fogel says performance will recover in Q2

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Despite the dovish quarterly performance, CEO Glenn Fogel expressed confidence that signs of recovery were starting to show and that performance was likely to recover in the second quarter. The Norwalk-based company, however, refrained from giving its guidance for Q2. In the prior quarter (Q4), Booking Holdings had swung to a loss of £116 million.

Commenting on the earnings report on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Thursday, Fogel said that the recovery was stronger in the United States than anywhere else in the world, except for Israel, but that is a very small travel area.

Being a global company, the CEO added, Booking Holdings wins half of its business from Europe, another 20% from Asia, while the remaining 30% is attributed to the U.S. and the rest of the world. This highlights the importance of a worldwide recovery before the company can return to the pre-pandemic levels.

Fogel correlates travel demand and vaccine rollouts

The chief executive said:

“We believe safety in travel is very important. We recognise that some people are always going to be reluctant in getting onto a plane because they’re afraid of a virus. But the fact is, people get ill anywhere around the world. We just want to make things as safe as possible. As vaccines continue to be distributed throughout the world, people are going to feel safer, and they’ll start travelling more and more. And we really look forward to that becoming a state where people will not always be thinking about COVID and will just about their lives.”

CEO Fogel went on to point out that travel demand is recovering quickly in countries where vaccines are being rolled out fast. He acknowledged the issues Europe has had so far with vaccine rollouts but expressed confidence that things have started to pick up in recent weeks. In the long run, Fogel said, he was positive that Europe will soon the join league.  

In separate news from the United States, Moderna reported £1.123 billion of COVID-19 vaccine sales in the fiscal first quarter.  

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