Cendant, owner of brands such as property broker Century 21 and travel website Orbitz, on Wednesday said strong timeshare sales and overall stability in the US real estate market helped lift first-quarter earnings to the high end of expectations.

The travel and real estate conglomerate also said plans for a four-way split were on track. However, Cendant announced this week it might sell the travel services unit instead of spinning it off.

Cendant on Wednesday said the division, recently renamed Travelport, could be sold by late summer "as an alternative means to maximise shareholder value." The troubled unit that includes online travel agencies Orbitz and Ebookers and travel reservations system Galileo could be worth $4bn.

Worldwide gross bookings for the travel services unit jumped 27 per cent in the first quarter but earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) were hit by technology costs and higher expenses at its travel reservations systems.

Cendant is scrambling to fix the technology behind its online travel agencies, particularly the UK's Ebookers, after admitting to a flawed execution of its online strategy. It last year earmarked $40m for the overhaul.

Ebitda fell 19 per cent to $105m even as revenue increased 17 per cent to $645m.

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