Travelocity.com parent SabreHoldings has become the latest online travel specialist to change hands. Why is everyone selling? Or, put another way, why is everyone buying? Is Priceline.com the next to go?

The travel portals haven't been as prominent as they were when Travelocity and Expedia ruled the roost as stand-alone public companies. Back then, they were revolutionary in consumer education, breaking new ground by providing side-by-side comparisons of various travel alternatives. However, as airlines, hoteliers, and car rental agencies have beefed up their online outlets, many consumers are cutting out the portals and booking directly with the providers.

This doesn't mean the sector is dead. Priceline has done quite well lately. Expedia's stock has soared 60% higher since bottoming out this summer. Maybe the private equity firms sense the turnaround and want to buy in before momentum carries asking prices even higher. Either way, Priceline doesn't really have much of a reason to put itself on the block as long as it's rolling along. Then again, you never know when the company's "Name Your Own Price" slogan may apply to prospective bidders as well.

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