Sabre reported net income of $71.9 million for 2014, a year that president and CEO Tom Klein described as “a year of transition with focus.” It was a nice turnaround from 2013, when it reported a net loss of $97.6 million.
During Sabre’s fourth quarter and full year 2014 earnings call, Klein called the company’s fourth quarter was “solid but muted."
Although Sabre’s airline and hospitality solutions business was buoyed by “strong execution and customer growth,” with a revenue increase of 13.5%, the Travel Network side of the house experienced “headwinds” that led to a slight drop in revenue of 1.4%.
Among the factors that affected Sabre Travel Network’s performance were the pricing impact of the merger of American Airlines and US Airways and the decline in travel in Venezuela.
Many airlines have stopped serving the country, whose aviation market is nothing short of a mess, and the decline has affected Sabre more than other GDS companies due to its 60% market share in Venezuela.
“I don’t see a recovery in sight there, given what’s going on with the government,” Klein said.
The EMEA region -- Europe, the Middle East and Africa -- on the other hand, were a bright spot for Sabre’s GDS business. “As we enter 2015, we’ve opened more than a dozen new markets,” Klein said.
The Sabre Travel Network is well positioned for growth in 2015, he added.
“The corporate market will be improved and you’ve got to like the fact that people expect [airline] capacity to increase,” said Klein.
Overall bookings are up
Overall, air bookings were up 2.4% for the year, to 321.9 million, and up 1.2% for the quarter, to 70.8 million.
Non-air bookings were up 1.2% for the year, to 54.1million, and up 0.6% for the quarter, to 12.8 million.
Asked about Sabre’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing in which it reported that it was exploring a new acquisition, Klein said the company was in an “awkward spot.”
“We disclosed what we had to disclose because we were doing an equity offering,” Klein said. Declining to elaborate, he said, “I would just say it’s a unique opportunity, and we’re excited about it.”
The acquisition target is widely believed to be Abacus International, the Singapore-based GDS company that is a joint venture of Sabre and a consortium of Asian airlines.