Kayak IPO: Another Priceline.com?

Online travel sites have provided some big wins for investors. A few months ago, the Indian travel agency MakeMyTrip (MMYT) went public at $14 and the stock is now trading at $28.28.

Priceline.com (PCLN) has been another stellar performer. So far this year, its shares have gone from $173.32 to $428.10. The market cap is now a whopping $19.5 billion.

Investors may get another chance to participate in the gains. This week, Kayak filed to go public. The pricing terms have yet to be set, but it looks like the offering should be red hot. As a sign of its investment attractiveness, Kayak has investors that include tier-one players like Sequoia Capital, Accel Partners, General Catalyst Partners and Oak Investment Partners.

Revenues on a Roll

Founded in 2004, Kayak leveraged Web 2.0 technologies to build a next-generation travel site. The co-founders actually helped to build companies like Orbitz, Expedia and Travelocity.

And they certainly leveraged their experiences effectively. During the past nine months, Kayak has posted $128 million in revenues, up 48% over the year-ago period. And revenues have been accelerating lately. There was an 80% spike in the third quarter.

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Then again, Kayak is easy to use and indexes hundreds of sites for airline and hotel rates. This year, there were roughly 469 million user queries on the system. Keep in mind that about 72% of these queries came directly to the website, not from third-party sources. In other words, Kayak has substantial brand and loyalty with its users.

No doubt, the audience is highly attractive to advertisers. But to improve things even more, Kayak has invested in its technology platform to allow better targeting of its user base.

Recent Investments Require Capital

To remain competitive, Kayak realizes it needs to ramp-up spending on marketing. So the company has recently launched a television campaign. This type traditional marketing has been a big help for companies like Priceline.com.

What's more, Kayak is getting aggressive in global markets. The company already operates 14 sites outside the U.S., including Germany, the U.K. and India.

Finally, Kayak has been investing in mobile applications. Consider that there have already been four million downloads of its apps (across various mobile platforms like the iPhone).

While these investments are critical, they will also require large amounts of capital. So an IPO makes a lot of sense. However, investors will likely need to wait until early next year until this offering hits the markets.

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