In brief: Expedia reports rise in bookings

BELLEVUE, Wash. – Bookings are up at online travel company Expedia Inc., pushing its profit up despite prices for flights and hotels holding or softening.

The company said Thursday that the rise in bookings, which helped its third-quarter profit rise 23 percent, points to better days ahead for the rest of the travel industry, still hurting as consumers and businesses limit their spending during the recession.

The company said it earned $117 million, or 40 cents a share, in the three-month period that ended Sept. 30. That’s up from $94.8 million, or 33 cents a share, a year earlier.

Excluding one-time items, the company earned 48 cents a share in the period.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected 43 cents a share. Analysts typically exclude one-time items from their estimates.

GM will extend refund program

MILWAUKEE – General Motors Co. says its money-back guarantee – key to its revival – is going so well it will extend the program into early 2010.

The automaker launched its “May the Best Car Win” campaign in September as a way to get consumers to try GM cars and trucks with minimal risk. Consumers have been leery of the Detroit company since it filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year.

The program, which offers refunds within 31 to 60 days of purchase, was slated to end Nov. 30, but it will now last until Jan. 4.

Jay Spenchian, GM’s executive director of the marketing strategy support group, said few vehicles have been returned.

GM on Wednesday said it is likely next week to post its first year-over-year monthly sales gain in 21 months.

China buys into Texas wind farm

China took a big leap into the U.S. renewable energy market Thursday, putting up $1.5 billion for a 36,000-acre wind farm in Texas with the power to light up 180,000 homes.

The project is a joint venture with U.S. Renewable Energy Group, a private equity firm, Austin, Texas-based Cielo Wind Power LP and Shenyang Power Group of China.

The announcement Thursday shows how much China’s own wind industry has burgeoned and comes two days after U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu told lawmakers that the U.S. was falling behind China and others in alternative energy investment.

“With a long track record for building some of the world’s biggest wind farms, the U.S. is a real ideal target for foreign alternative energy investment,” said Jinxiang Lu, Shenyang Power Group’s chairman and chief executive.

Executives would only say that the project will be located in West Texas and built within several counties.


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