Booking shines on travel rebound, COVID in Europe casts doubts on holiday demand

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Tourists required to show "Green Pass" in Rome

By Sanjana Shivdas

(Reuters) -Booking Holdings Inc topped market expectations for quarterly profit and revenue on Wednesday, but said a COVID-19 resurgence in Europe had cast uncertainty over year-end demand.

The company benefited in the third quarter from a rebound in leisure travel and the United States' decision to reopen its borders to fully vaccinated international visitors from Nov. 8.

Its shares rose 3.7% in extended trading as gross travel bookings surged 77% from a year earlier to $23.7 billion. Room nights - a measure of occupancy at any property - rose 44%.

But the online travel agent, owner of travel website Kayak, said a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in countries including Germany, Russia and Italy had hit room nights in Europe towards October end.

"Looking forward to November and December, the rising case counts across many important Western European countries and much of Eastern Europe ... creates unpredictability," Chief Financial Officer David Goulden said on an earnings call.

Trends were improving in Asia, where higher vaccination rates and easing travel curbs boosted domestic travel, it said.

The company has also recorded more gross bookings for the Christmas and New Year period in the United States compared with pre-pandemic 2019.

Total revenue rose 77% to $4.68 billion in the third quarter to beat expectations of $4.30 billion.

The company earned $37.70 per share on an adjusted basis, compared with analysts' average estimate of $32.9, according to Refintiv data.

(Reporting by Nathan Gomes and Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni)

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