Airbnb warns of pressure on vacation rental rates in 2023

Feb 14 (Reuters) - Airbnb Inc on Tuesday forecast that average rates for its rentals would fall slightly in the current quarter and remain pressured through 2023, as vacationers return to lower-cost urban rentals.

The vacation rental firm, however, forecast current-quarter revenue ahead of Wall Street target and said it would maintain last year's margins for the full year, as it expects to keep costs in check.

The San Francisco-based company, one of the top pandemic beneficiaries, has seen its revenue growth cool lately as fewer people are booking long-term rental stays away from cities with employers urging workers to return to offices, and a strong dollar eating into its overseas earnings.

Revenue rose 24% to $1.90 billion during the holiday quarter ended December, lower than the preceding two quarters, but beat analysts' average estimate of $1.86 billion.

The company said it expects to keep a tight lid on costs to ensure its 2023 core margins remain stable. It said travel demand continues to be strong in the first quarter despite recessionary fears sparking concerns around consumer spending.

"We're particularly encouraged by European guests booking their summer travel earlier this year," Airbnb said.

The company forecast first-quarter revenue between $1.75 billion and $1.82 billion, higher than analysts' expectations of $1.69 billion, as per Refinitiv data.

It expects core earnings to be down on a year-over-year basis due to its marketing spend.

Meanwhile, fourth-quarter average daily rates fell 1% to $153 and bookings rose 20% to $13.5 billion, below analysts' average expectation of $13.69 billion.

Airbnb reported a quarterly net profit of $319 million, or 48 cents per share, compared with a profit of $55 million, or 8 cents per share, a year earlier. (Reporting by Aishwarya Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)