Folks seem to be digging the kinder, gentler Priceline.com. The edgy online-travel pioneer, which has embraced a more traditional portal approach to accompany its travel-bidding service, saw a 63% spike in gross travel bookings this past quarter. A good chunk of that came through timely acquisitions and overseas expansion, but organic domestic growth still rose a healthy 17% for the June quarter.

Eyeing the income statement, we see that earnings before a series of stock-based-compensation and acquisition-related charges came in at $0.55 a share, while Wall Street was settling for just a $0.51-per-share showing. On that basis, Priceline now looks to earn between $1.66 and $1.74 a share for all of 2006. The new range places Wall Street's target of $1.67 a share in profitability at the low end of the spectrum of possibilities.

If that sounds familiar, you may be recalling the company's quarterly report that ended in March, in which Priceline issued a profit-per-share range between $1.60 to $1.70, while analysts were expecting only a $1.58 showing. The only real mystery here is why a company that has raised guidance twice in recent months is trading at just 16 times the midpoint for its 2006 income target.

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