Priceline shares sink 31.05%

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Shares of plunged 31.05% Nov. 3, after the "name-your-own-price" Internet commerce company disclosed a sales slowdown and the departure of its highly touted and well-regarded finance chief. Priceline shares fell $2.13, or 31.05%, to $4.72. Priceline's shares have lost 90.07% of their value in the last year amid a slew of problems; the company on Nov. 2 warned that fourth-quarter revenue will decline from the current level, and Priceline will cut 16% of its work force in a planned restructuring. Among other analyst downgrades, investment bank Goldman Sachs & Co. cut its rating on Priceline to "market perform" from "market outperform," saying the near-term outlook "can only be characterized as bleak and the long-term extendability of the platform is uncertain." Goldman Sachs cited a lack of visibility in the areas of expenses, restructuring charges and cash, on top of which came the resignation of Chief Financial Officer Heidi Miller. Ms. Miller, who joined from Citigroup in February, was leaving "to apply her talents in a more established business environment," Priceline said. A Priceline spokesman said the company has no plans to change its ad campaigns from Hill, Holliday, Boston, featuring "Star Trek" actor William Shatner.

Copyright November 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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