The year 2012 is nearing its end, and now's a good opportunity to look at what happened throughout the year to the stocks you follow. If you know the important things that a company achieved, as well as any challenges it failed to overcome, then you can make a better decision about whether it really deserves a spot in your portfolio.

Today, I'll look at Priceline.com . The online travel portal is famous for its name-your-own-price service but, this year, it seems like shareholders were the ones who got to pick their stock price, as the company posted amazing gains. Can Priceline make the good times last? Below, you'll find more to explain what happened with shares of Priceline.com this year.

Stats on Priceline.com

  

Year-to-date stock return

28.8%

Market cap

$30 billion

Revenue, past 12 months

$5.06 billion

Net income, past 12 months

$1.36 billion

1-year revenue growth

23.6%

1-year net income growth

40.4%

CAPS rating

**


Source: S&P Capital IQ.

How did Priceline.com keep flying high in 2012?
At the beginning of 2012, Priceline continued the upward trajectory it has enjoyed for years. With blowout quarterly results, the company left analysts in the dust by extending its long streak of earnings beats. By using its international business presence, Priceline has managed to avoid some of the economic headwinds that more domestically-focused competitors have suffered in the years since the recession.

But later in the year, Priceline started losing ground. Competitors re-emerged, as Expedia reinvigorated its business after spinning off its TripAdvisor business into a separate company, and even Google began to use its influence to grow its travel business.

In response, Priceline decided to buy metasearch giant Kayak in order to secure its dominance in the portal space, potentially reducing its online advertising costs, and giving it the same sort of data that Google uses to cater to its customers. That move could potentially put Expedia and Orbitz Worldwide at a huge competitive disadvantage.

At 23 times earnings, Priceline shares may look like they need a discount. But with expectations of 20% revenue growth going forward and, potentially, even faster earnings growth, investors who prefer fast-growing businesses will likely pay every penny to pick up Priceline shares at a relative bargain.

Will Google challenge Priceline?
Google has its fingers in just about everything on the Internet. But with so much to worry about, is Google really a threat to Priceline? Learn more in The Motley Fool's new premium research report on Google, in which we break down the risks and potential rewards for Google investors of all of its business segments. Simply click here now to unlock your copy of this invaluable resource, and you'll receive a bonus year's worth of key updates and expert guidance as news continues to develop.

Click here to add Priceline.com to My Watchlist, which can find all of our Foolish analysis on it and all your other stocks.

The article How Priceline Named its Own Share Price in 2012 originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Dan Caplinger has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. You can follow him on Twitter @DanCaplinger. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google and Priceline.com. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Google and Priceline.com. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Copyright © 1995 - 2012 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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