August 13, 2021

(Reuters) – Airbnb Inc said on Thursday its current-quarter bookings could be hit by the Delta variant of the coronavirus and a slowing pace of vaccination in the United States, sending its shares down more than 4%.

The company expects nights and experiences booked in the current quarter to slow from the second quarter and remain below 2019 levels.

“As we exit the second quarter and come into the third, we have a combination of fewer bookings for the fall, just given the nature of some of the seasonality and any kind of impact potentially on COVID concerns,” Chief Financial Officer Dave Stephenson said on a post-earnings call with investors.

The hugely popular global app, which has fought back strongly since being hit hard early in the pandemic last year, posted a more than four-fold rise in bookings to $13.4 billion in the second quarter.

It expects the third quarter to be its strongest on record as more people check into its vacation rentals after the easing of COVID-19 curbs in most major economies.

Active listings have been roughly stable throughout the health crisis and grew during the quarter, especially in non-urban destinations across Europe and North America, the company said.

“In popular leisure markets you’re seeing platforms offer increasingly generous incentives to hosts to secure quality inventory in order to meet demand,” wrote Dan Thomas, analyst at Third Bridge.

Hotels and other accommodation providers took a hammering last year as COVID-19 travel restrictions shut down large parts of their business.

Airbnb drew plaudits, however, for shifting its focus quickly to local and long-term rentals, attracting people looking for accommodations to rent for remote working or which did not require flying.

The company expects to report record third-quarter adjusted income before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) and margin.

(Reporting by Shreyasee Raj, Sanjana Shivdas and Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Patrick Graham, Devika Syamnath, Maju Samuel and Shailesh Kuber)

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