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Airbnb financial results blow past revenue expectations

Melody Hahm
·West Coast Correspondent
·3-min read
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Airbnb (ABNB) released fourth-quarter financial results Thursday after the closing bell, its first as a public company. The company reported revenue of $859 million for the quarter, handily beating top line expectations, but still representing a 22% year-over-year decline.

The home rental platform lost less money than analysts had anticipated, but still bled $3.9 billion in the fourth quarter. The company's gross booking value came in at $5.9 billion, down 31% year-over-year. Shares popped higher in after-hours trading. Citing "limited visibility for growth trends in 2021," executives are not providing guidance for the rest of the year.

While the travel industry has suffered amid the coronavirus, in some ways Airbnb has benefited from the current environment. The pandemic has been a catalyst for many travelers to find creative ways to get away, many booking long-term stays for their families tucked away in cabins or cottages away from densely populated cities.

Here's how the company performed compared to Wall Street's expectations for Q4 2020:

  • Revenue: $859 million vs. $739.7 million expected

  • Adjusted EBIDTA loss: $21 million vs. $132.8 expected

  • Net loss: $3.9 billion vs. $3.1 billion expected

The majority of analysts who cover the stock have a hold rating (20), while 13 recommend it as a buy and three have given it a sell rating.

Among those who are bullish, Loop Capital's Rob Sanderson boosted his rating from Hold to Buy, upping his price target from $150 to $240. Prior to Airbnb's financial results, he projected revenue would actually come in closer to $937 million, nearly 27% higher than consensus estimates.

The NASDAQ market site displays an AirBnb sign on their billboard on the day of their IPO in Times Square in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., December 10, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
The NASDAQ market site displays an AirBnb sign on their billboard on the day of their IPO in Times Square in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., December 10, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Airbnb, along with the travel industry at large, was hit hard during the first half of 2020. The company's revenue fell 67% in the quarter ending June 30, spurring it to lay off 25% of its workforce. But in a drastic reversal, Airbnb made a massive comeback, even managing to have a profitable third quarter. On July 8, Airbnb saw more than 1 million nights booked for the first time since March 3 as travelers got stir crazy in their homes but weren't willing to hop on an airplane or stay in a hotel in metro areas.

“Our performance in 2020 showed that Airbnb is resilient and inherently adaptable. Travel is coming back and we are laser-focused on preparing for the travel rebound,” Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky said in a statement on Thursday.

This trend is reflected in Expedia's (EXPE) recent quarter, too. While the travel booking platform doesn't break out financials by subsidiary, its home rental platform Vrbo was mentioned 40 times during the earnings call, with the majority of the discussion focused on the brand. Expedia CEO Peter Kern told Yahoo Finance that it's "just about the only part of the company that's growing."

Traditional hotel conglomerates like Marriott (MAR) have also invested heavily into the home rental space, indicating that this pandemic norm may well carry on even after travel restrictions lift.

Marriott launched its Homes & Villas brand in 2019, and expanded its inventory 160% in 2020, and it has more than 25,000 homes across 240 destinations around the world, 40% of which are areas where Marriott didn't have a presence before, many of them in remote locations.

Melody Hahm is Yahoo Finance’s West Coast correspondent, covering entrepreneurship, technology and culture. Follow her on Twitter @melodyhahm and on LinkedIn.

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