Airbnb Thinks Its Stock Is Cheap — Should You Buy it Now?

Travel disruptor Airbnb (NASDAQ: ABNB) reported its second-quarter results on Tuesday after the bell, and given the stock’s reaction, it’s fair to say that investors were disappointed by slowing revenue growth and worrying signs that inflation and recession fears might be affecting consumer demand.

However, Airbnb apparently thinks its stock is a bargain, as evidenced by the company’s newly announced $2 billion share repurchase plan. Here’s a quick rundown of the good and bad from Airbnb’s second quarter, and whether the stock could be an interesting opportunity for long-term investors.

Airbnb’s second-quarter results

Airbnb’s second quarter was a mixed bag. Travel demand remained very strong, but there were a few concerning signs as well.

First the good. Airbnb handily beat earnings per share expectations for the second quarter and generated the most profitable second quarter in the company’s history. Customers booked $17 billion worth of stays and experiences on the platform in the second quarter. The company has over 6 million active listings, despite its decision to exit the mainland China market.

The company is projecting an all-time high in revenue for the third quarter, also saying that July 4 was Airbnb’s best day ever in terms of revenue. It said in its earnings release that travel demand is high and that longer-term stays remain the fastest-growing part of the business. Average daily rates were up 7% year-over-year and 40% higher than in comparable pre-pandemic (2019) levels.

However, there are a few reasons investors are being cautious after the report. For one thing, revenue growth was 58% year-over-year, which sounds phenomenal (and it is), but it was slightly less than expected and represents a bit of a slowdown. Booking volume in the second quarter was a little lighter than analysts were looking for.

Additionally, Airbnb reported “elevated cancellations” toward the end of the quarter, indicating that recession fears and inflation could be starting to significantly affect consumer spending on travel and experiences, which so far has held up very well.

Airbnb stock looks like a bargain

While the company’s results weren’t exactly terrible, the market had a negative reaction, with shares falling by about 10% after the announcement.

However, management apparently thinks the stock is cheap, announcing a $2 billion share repurchase (buyback) program along with earnings. For context, this represents a little less than 3% of the company’s outstanding shares.

Buyback programs – especially when they are introduced in down markets – are often an indicator that management thinks a stock is attractively valued. Airbnb has about $10 billion in cash on its balance sheet and generated nearly $3 billion in free cash flow over the past year, and management has decided that buying back shares is a great way to put a chunk of that capital to work.

Should you buy Airbnb shares?

With shares trading for nearly 50% less than their 52-week high, it’s not surprising that management sees an opportunity to deploy capital in the form of a buyback. On the other hand, with shares trading for roughly 11 times trailing 12-month revenue and 66 times forward earnings, Airbnb isn’t exactly a “cheap” stock.

There are also some near-term headwinds to keep in mind. The rising cancellation rate toward the end of the second quarter that the company reported is certainly worth watching. Airbnb also said that it was being affected by flight cancellations, and it’s important to realize that airline disruptions are still elevated, and this could affect the company’s results going forward.

However, Airbnb still has massive growth potential, with the global market for lodging and experiences being a multi-trillion-dollar revenue opportunity. And with 58% year-over-year revenue growth, booking volume that is 73% higher than pre-pandemic levels, and impressive free cash flow generation, Airbnb clearly has serious momentum in its business.

Airbnb is not exactly a low-risk stock, and investors should be prepared for a bit of a roller-coaster ride as its growth story continues to unfold. That said, if Airbnb can keep its growth rate strong for several more years, its business (and profitability) could certainly jump to the next level, and investors could be handsomely rewarded.

Matthew Frankel, CFP® has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Airbnb, Inc. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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