As you can imagine, I spend a great deal of the year on the road visiting companies, attending conferences and meeting partners. Having had all sorts of hotel experiences over the course of the past decades, I really like to be able to choose hotels which can make my travels more enjoyable. I discovered the website Tripadvisor a few years ago and became a loyal fan. To paraphrase an American Express advertising, I never leave home without vetting out my destination on Tripadvisor ahead of time. The company also owns another very useful site called webseatguru.com which helps you choose the best seat on any commercial flight.
Tripadvisor went public at the end of 2011 and I was very impressed with the company’s financial performance after reading the prospectus. Unfortunately, the stock rapidly climbed to $45 and was trading at 30 times its earnings. Then, in the fall of 2012, the stock tumbled by 33% to $30 and I seriously thought about buying it. The P/E seemed reasonable (20x) for a company with a dominant brand that was growing at 20% a year. Yet, as often the case, I decided to wait for an even better price. And the stock surged by 180% in the following year and is now trading at $84. It’s too bad that I didn’t convert my admiration into profits as it would have paid for a few five star hotels…for both you and me.