Booking Holdings Inc.’s operations continued to struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic at the end of 2020, but held up better than analysts expected. Booking BKNG, + 3.57%, known as Priceline before changing its corporate name to one of its other online travel brands, said fourth-quarter losses on Wednesday of $ 165 million, or 4 .02 dollars per share, down from earnings of $ 27.75 per share. in the same quarter a year ago. Sales fell to $ 1.24 billion from $ 3.34 billion during the 2019 holiday season. After adjusting for some tax impacts and other costs, Booking recorded a loss of 57 cents per share, down compared to adjusted earnings of $ 23.30 per share a year ago. Analysts on average expected adjusted losses of $ 4.28 per share on sales of $ 1.2 billion, according to FactSet. Shares gained around 2% after hours of trading following the release of results. The travel industry came under fire during the COVID-19 pandemic and the decline worsened in the last quarter of the year, with the coronavirus causing more lockdowns. Chief Executive Officer Glenn Fogel issued a note of hope in a statement during Wednesday’s announcement. “The travel environment continued to be difficult during the fourth quarter of 2020 and through January 2021 as the number of COVID-19 cases remained very high and travel restrictions were reimposed in many. regions of the world, ”Fogel said. “However, in recent weeks we have started to see improvements in booking trends which we will continue to monitor.” Although Booking did not provide a forecast for the first quarter in Wednesday’s announcement, analysts expected any recovery to start further into 2021. “Given the likelihood of lockdowns extending as far as in March (notably in the UK) we expect a reset is needed for 1H: 21 Street forecasts (with our estimates) as intra-quarterly travel is muffled, although this should be to some extent within the expectations, ”Stifel analysts wrote in an online travel revenue snapshot earlier this month. “We believe the situation looks more favorable over a 12 to 18 month period for Booking, given the strong leverage effect on leisure travel, exposure to alternative accommodation and the ability to generate revenue.” Investors have been betting heavily on a possible turnaround, as Booking shares jumped over 27% last month and are now up over 36% last year, while the S&P 500 SPX index, +1, 14%, increased by 20.3%. Some of these gains appear to be linked to the initial public offering and early trading by Airbnb Inc. ABNB, + 6.72%, which sells full-residence accommodation instead of hotels – Booking and another rival, Expedia Group Inc. EXPE, + 1.93%, offer similar options in their brand portfolios. “A public assessment of Expedia’s alternative accommodation portfolio in the form of Airbnb seems to suggest a significant pricing error one way or the other” and “a similar argument can be made for Booking on a sum basis parts relating to Airbnb, ”Wedbush analysts wrote earlier this month, while improving Expedia’s stock and raising their reservation price target. Airbnb, which is worth more than Booking despite being considerably smaller, is expected to publish its results for the first time as a public company on Thursday afternoon. Airbnb stock, which sold for $ 68 when it went public in December, closed at more than $ 200 on Wednesday. .