10-K 1 a07-4902_110k.htm ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 AND 15(D)

 

UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

FORM 10-K

x                              Annual Report Pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2006

OR

o                                 Transition Report Pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934

Commission file number: 1-12175

GRAPHIC

SABRE HOLDINGS CORPORATION

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

Delaware

 

75-2662240

(State or other jurisdiction of

 

(I.R.S. Employer

incorporation or organization)

 

Identification No.)

3150 Sabre Drive, Southlake, TX

 

76092

(Address of principal executive offices)

 

(Zip Code)

 

(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code) 682 605-1000

None

(Former name, former address and former fiscal year, if changed since last report)

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

Title of each class

 

Name of each exchange on which registered

Class A Common Stock, $.01 par value per share

 

New York Stock Exchange

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:

None

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes x  No o

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Exchange Act. Yes o  No x.

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes x  No o.

Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. o

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, or a non-accelerated filer. See definition of “accelerated filer and large accelerated filer” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

Large accelerated filer x

Accelerated filer o

Non-accelerated filer o

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes o  No x

As of June 30, 2006, the aggregate market value of the registrant’s common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant was $2,845,891,356 based on the closing sale price of $22.00 as reported on the New York Stock Exchange.

Indicate the number of shares outstanding of each of the issuer’s classes of common stock, as of the latest practicable date.

Class

 

Outstanding at February 20, 2007

Common Stock, $.01 par value per share

 

133,799,727 shares

 

 




Sabre Holdings Corporation
Annual Report of Form 10-K for the Year Ended December 31, 2006
Table of Contents

 

PART I:

 

 

 

 

Item 1.

Business

 

3

 

Item 1A.

Risk Factors

 

14

 

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

 

21

 

Item 2.

Properties

 

21

 

Item 3.

Legal Proceedings

 

22

 

Item 4.

Submission of Matters to a Vote of Security Holders

 

22

 

PART II:

 

 

 

 

Item 5.

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

23

 

Item 6.

Selected Consolidated Financial Data

 

25

 

Item 7.

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

 

29

 

Item 7A.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

 

64

 

Item 8.

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

 

66

 

Item 9.

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

 

134

 

Item 9A.

Controls and Procedures

 

136

 

Item 9B.

Other Information

 

137

 

PART III:

 

 

 

 

Item 10.

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

 

138

 

Item 11.

Executive Compensation

 

143

 

Item 12.

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

 

164

 

Item 13.

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions and Director Independence

 

169

 

Item 14.

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

 

172

 

PART IV:

 

 

 

 

Item 15.

Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

 

174

 

SIGNATURES

 

184

 

 

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PART I

In this Annual Report on Form 10-K, the words “Sabre Holdings,” “company,” “we,” “our,” “ours” and “us” refer to Sabre Holdings Corporation and its consolidated subsidiaries unless otherwise stated or the context otherwise requires.

ITEM 1.                     BUSINESS

Overview

Sabre Holdings Corporation is a Delaware holding company incorporated on June 25, 1996. Sabre Inc. is the principal operating subsidiary and sole direct subsidiary of Sabre Holdings Corporation. Sabre Inc. or its direct or indirect subsidiaries conduct all of our businesses.

We are a world leader in travel commerce. Our companies and brands offer a broad portfolio of leading travel marketing, distribution and technology solutions. We support airlines, hotels, cruise lines, car rental agencies and other travel suppliers through a distribution network that enables global marketing through tens of thousands of points of sale, sophisticated data gathering and analysis, and robust business optimization tools. We support online and conventional travel agencies, corporate travel purchasers and consumers by providing an efficient electronic marketplace that consolidates a wealth of travel information, and facilitates shopping and purchasing of travel components and packages. We participate in travel distribution and marketing to multiple audiences through different methods we refer to as “channels.” These channels include travel agencies, direct to consumers, and corporate or business-direct.

We organize our businesses into three segments:

·         Travelocity

·         Sabre Travel Network

·         Sabre Airline Solutions

In 2006, approximately 36.2% of our revenue was generated from Travelocity, 54.4% from Sabre Travel Network and 9.4% from Sabre Airline Solutions, based on segment results that include intersegment revenues. Compared to the year-ago period, revenues (including intersegment revenues) for the twelve months ended December 31, 2006 increased 30.5% for Travelocity (including lastminute.com from July 20, 2005), 1.3% for Sabre Travel Network and 8.3% for Sabre Airline Solutions.

Travelocity:   Our Travelocity segment markets and distributes travel-related products and services directly to individuals, including leisure travelers and business travelers. Our Travelocity®1, lastminute.comSM and Zuji.comSM branded websites and contact centers constitute one of the largest travel agencies in the world. We also provide content and functionality to, and market and sell products and services through private-label websites for suppliers, distribution partners and travel agencies. Through our offerings, travelers can access offerings, pricing and information about airlines, hotels, car rental companies, cruise lines, vacation and last-minute travel packages and other travel-related services. Our Travelocity Business® online corporate travel agency provides business travelers the corporate travel technology and full-service offering of our GetThere® products along with the online expertise of Travelocity.


1                    ClientBase, eMergo, GetThere, Holiday Autos, holidayautos.com, Hotel Spotlight, IgoUgo, Jurni Network, lastminute.com, medhotels.com, MySabre, Nexion, PromoSpots, rejsefeber.dk, reisefeber.no, resfeber.se, Sabre, Sabre Airline Solutions, Sabre Holdings, the Sabre Holdings logo, Sabre Travel Network, SabreSonic, Showtickets.com, Site 59, Site59.com, Surround, SynXis, TotalTrip, TRAMS, Travelocity, Travelocity Business, Travelocity Partner Network, Travelocity.ca, Travelocity.com, Travelocity.co.uk, TurboSabre, Travelocity.de, Zuji, and Zuji.com are trademarks and/or service marks of an affiliate of Sabre Holdings Corporation. All other trademarks, service marks, or tradenames are the property of their respective owners. © 2007 Sabre Holdings Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Sabre Travel Network:   Our Sabre Travel Network segment markets and distributes travel-related products and services for its travel supplier participants through the online and offline travel agency and corporate channels. Our Sabre® global distribution system (the “Sabre system” or “Sabre GDS”) produces more bookings for airlines and hotels than any other distribution system. Users of the Sabre system (who we refer to as “subscribers”) can access information about, book reservations for, and purchase a variety of travel offerings. These offerings include, among other things, airline trips, hotel stays, car rentals, cruises and tour packages. We also enable corporate travel management through our GetThere products. We provide travel agencies with office automation tools, consortia management services and enable them to provide services via the Internet. In addition, Sabre Travel Network provides marketing information to suppliers and reservation management and technology services to hotel properties.

Sabre Airline Solutions:   Our Sabre Airline Solutions segment is a global leader in providing passenger management solutions, software products and related services, and consulting services to help airlines simplify operations and lower costs. We provide airline reservations, inventory and check-in hosting solutions that help airlines address the challenge of building and retaining customer loyalty while reducing costs. We supply decision-support software and technology for airlines to improve profitability, increase revenue, streamline operations and improve workflow. In addition, we offer a complete range of consulting services to the airline industry, ranging from one time to extended engagements. Clients include airlines, airports, manufacturers and governments, as well as individuals, travel agencies and members of the financial community.

Sale of the Company

On December 12, 2006, we entered into a definitive agreement and plan of merger (“Merger Agreement”) with affiliates of Texas Pacific Group and Silver Lake Partners (the “Sponsors”). Under the terms of the Merger Agreement, investment funds affiliated with the Sponsors will indirectly acquire the Class A Common Stock of Sabre Holdings for $32.75 per share. The $5.4 billion acquisition is anticipated to be funded with direct and indirect equity investments from the investment funds and with underwritten debt commitments from Deutsche Bank and Merrill Lynch.

If the merger agreement is terminated in certain circumstances, we could be required to pay a termination fee of $135 million to the Sponsors’ affiliates. If the merger agreement is terminated under other circumstances, the Sponsors’ affiliates have agreed to pay us a business interruption fee of $175 million.

Upon completion of the merger, we will incur significant costs associated with the acceleration of employee and non-employee director share-based awards (see Note 12 to the Consolidated Financial Statements) as well as significant costs to complete the transaction.

Completion of the transaction is subject to our receiving regulatory and shareholder approvals. We expect the transaction to close by early second quarter of 2007.

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Travelocity

Travelocity is a leading provider of consumer direct travel services for the leisure and business traveler. In 2005, we significantly expanded our presence in Europe with the purchase of lastminute.com, a leader in European online travel marketing. Travelocity operates through the Travelocity.com® and Site59.com® (“Site 59®”) websites, Travelocity’s international websites including lastminute.com, HolidayAutos.comSM and Zuji.comSM and its contact centers, travel agency partners, and its Travelocity Partner Network® offering. These services allow individual leisure and business travelers to shop, compare prices and make travel reservations online with airlines, car rental agencies, hotel companies and cruise and tour providers. The Travelocity Partner Network offering expands Travelocity’s distribution reach through agreements with leading online retailers, including Yahoo! Travel, America Online, American Express, Southwest Airlines, US Airways, and AARP. For example, Site 59 powers the last-minute travel sections of Travelocity, AOL Travel, Cheap Tickets, Yahoo! Travel, American Airlines Vacations, Delta Air Lines Vacations, Continental Airlines Vacations, Northwest’s nwa.com, and Bestfares.com, among others. We also offer access to a database of information regarding specific destinations and other information of interest to travelers.

Travelocity facilitates transactions between travel suppliers and consumers to book and pay for travel accommodations. For net rate transactions, we generate service fee revenue equal to the total amount paid by the customer, minus Travelocity’s payment to the travel supplier for the travel accommodations. We also generate revenue from commissions or transaction fees from travel suppliers for the purchase of travel products and services pursuant to reservations made through our system. Other revenue sources include service fees charged to customers, advertising revenues and GDS incentives (from Sabre Travel Network and other GDSs). Income or losses from interests in joint ventures, which are described under “International” below, are recognized as revenue or contra-revenue. We derive intersegment revenues from Sabre Travel Network, consisting mainly of incentives for Travelocity bookings made through the Sabre GDS, and fees paid by Sabre Travel Network and Sabre Airline Solutions for corporate and airline trips booked through the Travelocity online booking technology. During 2006, customers transacted approximately $10.1 billion in travel and related services through Travelocity.

For our business customers, we also operate Travelocity Business, a comprehensive travel service available for corporations and other organizations. Travelocity Business combines the integrated corporate travel technology and full-service offering products of GetThere with the online expertise of Travelocity. Travelocity also operates multiple businesses tailored to customers outside the United States, as described under “Strategic Development of Travelocity” and “International” below.

Strategic Development of Travelocity.   The growth and development of Travelocity continues to be a strategic focus for us. We continued to invest in areas that we believe offer rapid growth opportunities, such as in the business-direct channel and online distribution in Europe and Asia. For example:

·         On July 20, 2005, we acquired lastminute.com, a leading online travel and leisure company in Europe that has become Travelocity’s lead brand in the region. With the acquisition of lastminute.com, we can now offer travel suppliers a greater number of potential buyers in a broader geographic area, particularly in Europe. We expect this greatly increased scale to allow us to offer consumers even better travel deals and a greater range of international options. An immediate benefit is our ability to give lastminute.com customers access to the wide range of hotels in Travelocity’s net rate hotel program. lastminute.com customers have a greater range of U.S. and international travel options, and over time, Travelocity.com customers should gain more European travel choices. Sabre Travel Network also expects to offer its network of travel agency subscribers expanded European travel options as a result of the acquisition, expanding distribution reach for lastminute.com travel suppliers.

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·         Zuji Holdings Limited (“Zuji”), a joint venture operating in the Asia Pacific region with operations in Australia, Hong Kong, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan. On November 7, 2005, due to our issuing a $4 million loan to Zuji, we became the primary beneficiary of the joint venture and in accordance with Financial Accounting Standards Board (“FASB”) Interpretation No. 46R, Consolidation of Variable Interest Entities (Revised) (“FIN 46R”), we began accounting for our investment in Zuji, which was previously accounted for using the equity method, on a fully consolidated basis. In January 2005, Travelocity entered into a put option agreement relating to the equity of Zuji. On January 24, 2006, the put option was exercised and we purchased the remaining 90% of Zuji that we did not already own. We expect significant growth from Zuji as adoption of online travel continues to grow in Asia.

See “Item 1A—We may be unsuccessful in pursuing and integrating business combinations...

In June 2006, we sold three offline traditional retail businesses in our Travelocity Europe and lastminute.com operations as a part of the integration efforts that continue in the Travelocity segment and in Europe particularly. This sale was part of an effort to rationalize our portfolio of assets to focus on the higher growth online operations.

Net Rate Program.   In an effort to provide additional choices to consumers, Travelocity is increasingly promoting our net rate program, commonly referred to in the industry as a “merchant model program” due to the fact that Travelocity is the merchant of record for credit card processing. Under the net rate program, we facilitate transactions between travel suppliers and travelers for the booking of and payment for travel accommodations. Under this model, we generally do not purchase and resell travel accommodations and do not have any obligations with respect to travel accommodations listed online that do not sell. Instead, we act as an intermediary by entering into agreements with travel suppliers for the right to market their products, services and other content offerings at pre-determined net rates. Net rate travel offerings can include air travel, hotel stays, car rentals and dynamically packaged combinations. We market these net rate offerings to travelers at a price that includes service fees that we retain, plus an amount sufficient to pay the travel supplier for its charge for providing the travel accommodations, along with any applicable occupancy and other local taxes on that charge. For this type of business model, we require pre-payment by the traveler at the time of booking. Net rate content is beneficial for travelers because they can often book travel at a price lower than regularly published offerings. For us, the net rate model generally delivers higher service fee revenue per transaction than comparable transactions under an agency commission booking fee model. In addition, as long as the net rate program is growing, we experience improved operating cash flows as a result of receiving pre-payments from customers while paying suppliers after the travel occurs. For net rate transactions, we recognize as revenue the service fees that we retain on these transactions.

Our business strategy depends on net rate bookings as a significant source of future revenue growth and increased margins. Our strategy calls for us to increase or maintain the number of hotel rooms we can market under our net rate hotel program, based upon arrangements we make directly with individual hotel properties and hotel chains. In addition, Travelocity continues to use a supplier-friendly approach, which includes timely payment to suppliers and a two-way seamless connectivity to hotels’ property management systems so that reservations are not lost. See “Item 1A—Travelocity’s revenue growth largely depends on international growth and on expanding net rate (merchant) programs.”

The Sabre Global Distribution System

Overview

The Sabre system and other global distribution systems are a primary means of air travel distribution in the United States and in many international regions. The Sabre system, like other global distribution systems, creates an electronic marketplace where airlines, hotels and other travel suppliers display information about their products and services.

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The Sabre system provides subscribers a single rich source of travel information, allowing travel agents and other users to search within seconds tens of thousands of itinerary and pricing options across multiple travel suppliers. The Sabre system provides suppliers with data about subscriber-generated reservations, allowing suppliers to better manage inventory and revenues. The Sabre system enables printing airline tickets and itineraries. Additionally, the Sabre system offers extensive travel information on matters such as currency, medical and visa requirements, weather and sightseeing.

In 2006, more than 750 travel suppliers displayed information about their products and services through the Sabre system. We estimate that nearly $90 billion of travel-related products and services were sold through the Sabre system during this time. Also during 2006, more airline and hotel bookings were made through the Sabre system than through any other global distribution system.

Travel Supplier Participation and Pricing Options.   Airlines and other travel suppliers display and sell their inventory in the Sabre system. We offer airlines a range of participation levels. The lowest level of participation for airlines, Sabre® Basic Booking Request, provides schedules and electronic booking functionality only. Higher levels of participation for airlines provide enhanced levels of communication between the Sabre system and the travel supplier’s inventory system, giving subscribers more reliable information and travel suppliers improved inventory management. This direct connection allows the Sabre system to provide real-time information about inventory and confirmed reservations and the airline to optimize revenue for each flight. We offer car rental companies and hotel operators similar levels of participation. We also offer travel suppliers marketing data derived from the Sabre system bookings. Travel suppliers use this marketing information and other operational systems we sell to improve their revenue and profitability.

We have designed service and pricing offerings to airlines to ensure that subscribers will continue to have broad, dependable access to airline schedules, seat availability and fares. With the deregulation of the United States GDS industry in mid-2004 (described below under Computer Reservation System Industry Regulation), we have the flexibility to vary our pricing and other contract terms from airline to airline. We believe that airlines will see the benefits of more customizable relationships with us, including possible reductions in transaction fees. We are setting forth various pricing options for airline suppliers, including options that may include services from each of our business segments and may expand “net rate” or other merchandising opportunities. We also have “opt-in” agreements that offer participating airlines lower transaction fees for bookings created in certain regions, and make certain discounted fares on those airlines available only to those subscribers that accept lowered incentive payments.

We have signed new long-term full content agreements with the following large U.S. airlines: American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Northwest Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways, which had full content contracts up for renewal, and AirTran Airways, Alaska Airlines, and JetBlue Airways, which did not previously have long-term full content contracts. The US Airways agreement also includes America West, which did not previously have a long-term full content contract. The new agreements are for five to seven years and, like the original Direct Connect Availability (“DCA”) 3-year agreements, require participating airlines to provide all Sabre GDS users long-term, broad access to schedules, seat availability and published fares, including Web fares and other promotional fares. These agreements also generally require participating airlines to furnish to passengers booked through the Sabre GDS the same customer perquisites and amenities as those afforded to passengers booked through other GDSs and websites. As of December 31, 2006, approximately 60% of our global direct air bookings were subject to long-term contracts.

Additionally, we have transitioned over 350 carriers from our traditional Participating Carrier Agreement (“PCA”) to a new Travel Marketing Agreement (“TMA”). These new agreements are one-year agreements, as compared with 30 days in the PCA, and are automatically renewed unless cancelled by either side. The TMA has pricing that varies by region and, in some cases, by the value of the ticket that was sold. This pricing better aligns price with value for the airline and provides better content guarantees to Sabre Travel Network.

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Sabre Travel Network

Sabre Travel Network markets the Sabre GDS to travel suppliers, travel agency subscribers (online and brick and mortar) and corporations. As of December 31, 2006, travel agencies with over 50,000 locations in 113 countries on 6 continents subscribed to the Sabre system. We enabled these subscribers to make reservations with over 440 airlines, 28 car rental companies, 215 tour operators, 12 cruise lines, 37 railroads and 277 hotel companies.

Approximately 54.4%, 59.7% and 67.5% of our revenue (including intersegment revenues) in 2006, 2005 and 2004, respectively, was generated by Sabre Travel Network, primarily through transaction fees paid by travel suppliers.

Subscribers may access the Sabre system on their own hardware over communications circuits contracted from their telecommunications vendors, or subscribers may contract with us for the hardware, software, technical support and other services needed to use the Sabre system. Increasingly, travel agents are providing the majority of their own hardware. Fees for our services are payable over the term of the subscriber’s agreement with us, generally five years in the United States and Latin America, three years in Canada, and one year in Europe. In addition, we pay incentives to many travel agencies based on their booking productivity, which is our largest cost of revenue.

We have designed the Sabre system interface to meet the specific needs of different categories of travel agents. The Sabre system interfaces are available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Italian and Japanese. We offer the MySabreÔ web-based travel agency portal, which combines the breadth of the Internet with the power of the Sabre GDS. It provides access to the content of the Sabre GDS, as well as web-based booking tools for cruises, restaurants, ground transportation, theatre, local events and theme parks. Turbo Sabre® software is an advanced point-of-sale interface and application development tool that enables advanced functionality like customized screens, automated quality control and database integration. In addition, Turbo Sabre eliminates complex commands, reducing keystrokes and training requirements.

In addition to the Sabre system described above, Sabre Travel Network also provides bookings solutions to serve the specific online needs of our subscribers and travel suppliers, including website development, business logic middleware and back end processing. We also offer travel agencies back-office accounting systems and a simplified method to develop and place their own marketing presence on the Internet. Subscriber and travel supplier product offerings range from off-the-shelf applications to fully customized solutions. Subscribers pay license, consulting and web hosting fees that vary with the level of customization and volume generated by their sites.

Changing our Sabre Travel Network Revenue Model.   Historically, the vast majority of our travel distribution revenues have been derived from transaction fees paid by travel suppliers measured by subscriber bookings generated through the Sabre GDS. From those fees, Sabre Travel Network has paid incentives to its travel agency subscribers as a cost of revenue. We continue to seek ways to provide more flexible and cost-effective distribution options to suppliers and are increasingly entering into arrangements that depart from our traditional revenue model. As our business evolves, we have broadened our description of “transaction” to include any travel reservation that generates a fee paid directly to us, including in part the following:

·         traditional booking fees paid by travel suppliers,

·         non-traditional transaction fees paid by travel suppliers,

·         transaction fees paid by travel agency subscribers, and

·         transaction fees paid by corporations related to our online booking tool, GetThere.

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See “The Sabre Global Distribution System—Travel Supplier Participation and Pricing Options” above. For example, we have arrangements under which some travel suppliers pay our travel agency customer (such as Travelocity), who in turn pays a transaction fee to Sabre Travel Network. We are also looking for more opportunities to market net rate offerings, benefiting from the merchandising insight that we gain from our integrated portfolio of travel distribution and travel marketing assets. Net rate offerings are explained in more detail above in “Travelocity—Net Rate Program.” Some of these non-traditional transactions may have a lower rate per transaction than a traditional booking fee, and as a result the overall average revenue per transaction may be lower as these non-traditional transactions increase.

Launching of the Efficient Access Solution.   On September 1, 2006 we launched the Efficient Access SM Solution for our airline and travel agency customers. The Efficient Access Solution is a balanced program to address the economic pressures airlines face while continuing to provide travel agencies with the incentives and long-term protections described below. With the Efficient Access Solution, carriers participating in the program receive a discount on booking fees for reservations made by participating agencies. In return, the airlines agree to provide over the long-term, key benefits and protections to agencies participating in the program. Through participation in the Efficient Access Solution, agencies are assured of long-term commitments from those airlines concerning:

·         Full content from program carriers, including published fares and Web fares, as well as non-discriminatory access to private fares, including agency negotiated rates and rates provided to the corporate or government customers those agencies serve, and

·         Protection from service fees that a program carrier might otherwise levy on bookings made through the Sabre GDS.

Agencies participating in the program agree to adjusted financial terms in exchange for the significant benefits and protections afforded by the new agreements. The terms will vary according to agency contract type, but generally result in lower incentive payments. Additionally, because carriers participating in the program will receive a discount on booking fees, this could have the effect of lowering Sabre Travel Network revenues over time but is anticipated to be offset by the lower incentive expense.

See “Item 1A—Changes to our travel supplier relationships may reduce our revenues.”

Sabre Airline Solutions

Sabre Airline Solutions is a global leader in providing technology that allows airlines to market and sell their inventory, serve their customers and manage daily operations to efficiently fly their schedules. We offer software products and related services for all facets of their business along with strategic and operational consulting services. Over 200 airlines worldwide use one or more products in our broad portfolio to increase revenues and improve operations. More than 100 airlines worldwide rely on our SabreSonic® passenger reservations product suite, and in 2006 four new carriers implemented this product suite, six new carriers signed agreements, and three carriers renewed their agreements, including Alaska Airlines. In addition, our Sabre® eMergo® Web access solution has grown to be the industry’s leading hosting solution for operational solutions with over 250 applications outsourced.

Airline Passenger Solutions.   We provide airline reservations, inventory and check-in hosting solutions that help airlines address the challenge of building and retaining customer loyalty while also reducing costs. With support of e-ticketing and passenger self-service options, our departure control systems equip airlines with the tools to increase sales through every distribution channel. Built on open-systems technology, our new generation SabreSonic Passenger Solution offers passenger-facing systems to airlines regardless of size, location, business model or current reservations system.

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Airline Products and Services.   We provide decision-support software and technology for airlines to improve profitability, increase revenue, streamline operations and improve workflow. We offer flexible product and service configurations to meet unique business needs, allowing airlines to choose a single, stand-alone system for a specific operational area or a bundled solution of multiple systems to address a variety of functional requirements and increase information sharing across a greater number of departments. Additionally, we offer the Sabre eMergo web-enabled and dedicated network solutions, as well as an ASP offering to airlines. Providing convenient remote access to secure data, the eMergo solutions help significantly lower or eliminate expenses associated with upfront capital outlay, staffing, data storage, ongoing maintenance and installation. Our decision-support tools are designed exclusively to meet the needs of airlines, regardless of size or business model, and assist in every key functional area of an airline, such as crew and cargo management, flight operations and revenue management.

Consulting Services.   We offer a complete range of consulting services to the airline industry. Assignments range from a one time engagement to extended engagements. Typical engagements include achieving the necessary standards to join an alliance, preparing for privatization and optimizing current operations. Clients include airlines, airports, manufacturers and governments, as well as individuals, travel agencies and members of the financial community.

International

TravelocityWe market Travelocity internationally directly through our various brands, and through a travel agency network in Europe. In Canada, Travelocity directly markets its Travelocity.ca® site. With the acquisition of lastminute.com in July 2005, we market in Europe using lastminute.com as our leading brand. Our European operations also include other European travel websites, including holidayautos.comSM and medhotels.com®, onlinetravel.com, Travelocity.co.uk® in the United Kingdom, resfeber.seSM in Sweden, rejsefeber.dkSM in Denmark, reisefeber.noSM in Norway and Travelocity.deSM in Germany. Until December 2005, Travelocity also partnered with Otto Versand through a joint venture company that distributed Travelocity in Germany through several brands. Travelocity retained the Travelocity.de brand on dissolution of that joint venture.

We operate in the Asia Pacific region through Zuji.com, which is hosted by Travelocity and utilizes Travelocity technology. See “TravelocityStrategic Development of Travelocity” above.

Sabre Travel NetworkWe market the Sabre system internationally both directly and through joint venture and distributorship arrangements. As of December 31, 2006, travel agencies with over 50,000 locations in 113 countries on 6 continents subscribed to the Sabre system. Our marketing partners outside the United States principally include airlines that have strong relationships with travel agents in their primary markets, and entities that operate regional computer reservation systems or other travel-related network services.

Sabre Travel Network has long-term agreements with ABACUS International Holdings Ltd., which created ABACUS International PTE Ltd. (“Abacus”), a Singapore-based joint venture company that manages travel distribution in the Asia Pacific region. We own 35% of the joint venture and provide it with transaction processing and product development services on the Sabre system. We also own 51% of Sabre Pacific, a joint venture with Abacus that provides travel marketing and distribution services in Australia and New Zealand. Sabre Travel Network also provides distribution products and services to Infini and Axess, Japan’s two largest GDS travel agency marketing companies. Infini is owned 40% by ABACUS and 60% by All Nippon Airways. Axess is owned 25% by Sabre and 75% by Japan Airlines. Sabre Travel Network also provides travel marketing and distribution services in Mexico through our 51% owned (48% voting rights) joint venture, Sabre Sociedad Technologica S.A. de C.V. Sabre Travel Network Middle East, a joint venture owned 60% by Sabre Travel Network and 40% by Gulf Air Company GSC (“Gulf Air”), provides technology services, bookable travel products and distribution services for travel agencies, corporations and travel suppliers in the Middle East region.

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Sabre Airline SolutionsSabre Airline Solutions markets software solutions and consulting services on four continents, with primary sales offices in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, London, Hong Kong and Sydney. We also maintain agency relationships to support sales efforts in key areas, including countries in Asia and the Middle East. Through Stockholm, Sweden-based RM Rocade (“Rocade”), we provide software solutions, including a fully functional flight operations product suite, to international small, medium-size and low cost carriers.

Competition

The travel marketplace is intensely competitive. Our companies and brands offer a broad portfolio of leading travel marketing, distribution and technology solutions that are well positioned in the marketplace. We market travel in the consumer-direct channel primarily through Travelocity. Travelocity’s competitors include Priceline.com, Travelport (which owns Orbitz and ebookers.com), Expedia (which also operates Hotels.com and Hotwire.com) and Opodo (owned by nine European airlines and Amadeus Global Travel Distribution S.A. (“Amadeus”). Virtually all major airlines, and many other travel suppliers, have websites that allow consumers to book directly with that supplier, and some offer an array of products and services. Certain owners of these sites may make certain discounted fares and prices available exclusively on their proprietary or multi-vendor websites. See further discussion under “Item 1A—Customers may reduce...”

We market travel in the business-direct channel principally through Travelocity Business travel service and our GetThere product. The marketplace for Internet-based corporate and government travel procurement and supply services is highly competitive and rapidly evolving. Travelocity’s competitors in the business-direct channel include traditional global distribution systems such as Amadeus’ E-Travel and Travelport’s Galileo as well as online players such as Expedia.com and Travelport’s Orbitz for Business and Travelport for Business.

Sabre Travel Network competes in the travel agency channel against other large and well-established traditional global distribution systems, such as Amadeus, Galileo International Inc. and Worldspan, L.P. Each of these competitors offers many products and services substantially similar to those offered by Sabre Travel Network. The diverging price structures of competing global distribution systems, and our ability to offer our portfolio of solutions, may provide us with an opportunity to win additional business.

We routinely face new competitors and new methods of travel distribution. Suppliers and third parties seek to promote distribution systems that book directly with travel suppliers. For example, established and start-up search engine companies are attempting to enter the travel marketplace by aggregating travel search results across supplier, travel agent and other websites. Many alternative distribution systems offer lower costs to suppliers, but they are not global and offer travelers a limited subset of transactions from a limited subset of suppliers in one market segment. The systems often must rely on the scale and functionality of a GDS such as our Sabre system for a complete travel distribution solution for suppliers and travel agencies. They do not offer comprehensive functionality and do not have the infrastructure to adequately service and support travel management companies or corporations. They require the integration of a new, stand alone system into most existing agency or corporate booking tool workflows. Many of these alternative travel distribution channels are well financed but are in start-up or developing mode, and have yet to fully define their functionality and costs. These alternative travel distribution systems may have the effect of diverting customers from our online sites and our Sabre GDS, putting pressure on our revenues, pricing and operating margins. See “Item 1A—Travel suppliers are pursuing distribution options....”

Another form of competition derives from airlines, which have worked to divert travel bookings onto channels that they control. Airlines have withheld inventory from independent travel distributors, have greatly reduced commissions paid to online and traditional travel agencies and have conditioned independent distributors’ access to inventory on their acceptance of pricing offered by channels that those airlines control. Their collective efforts have resulted in travel bookings being diverted from traditional distribution channels toward supplier-controlled channels, such as individual airline websites and call centers. We believe, however, that the rate of “channel shift” from the GDS channel to supplier-controlled sites has stabilized.

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The development of competing technologies or the emergence of new industry standards may also adversely affect our competitive position. Competition could result in reduced margins on our services and products. See “Item 1A—Consolidation in the travel industry....”

In the products and services business, Sabre Airline Solutions competes with a number of boutique firms in specific product areas, as well as across our portfolio with vendors such as Lufthansa Systems. In the airline passenger solutions business, Sabre Airline Solutions competes with Amadeus, Navitaire, Worldspan, IBM and others.

Computer Reservation System Industry Regulation

Aspects of our travel marketing and distribution businesses are subject to the Computer Reservation Systems (“CRS”) regulations in the European Union, Canada and Peru. These regulations generally govern GDS services for airlines and travel agencies, but not for non-airline suppliers (except rail suppliers in limited circumstances). Among the topics addressed in some of the current regulations are:

·         no preferencing CRS displays based upon airline identity,

·         equal treatment of airlines by the CRS,

·         equal participation in all CRSs by airlines that have an ownership interest in a CRS, and

·         limits on travel agency contract terms.

All CRS regulations in the United States expired on July 31, 2004. CRS regulations in Canada were eliminated on May 7, 2004, except rules prohibiting screen preference and discrimination in providing the right for all airlines to participate in service enhancements. The deregulation of CRSs in both the U.S. and Canada has enhanced our opportunities to creatively market airline services and freely negotiate with travel agencies. Regulators in the European Union (“E.U.”) have indicated they may propose the total repeal of their current CRS regulations even though four large E.U.-based airlines retain substantial ownership positions in the Amadeus CRS. It is not clear whether or when any amendments in the European Union’s CRS Code of Conduct will be formally proposed, or will take effect or what form they may ultimately take. The repeal of CRS rules in a jurisdiction where a locally-strong airline retains an ownership interest in a CRS presents significant competitive risks. See further discussion under “Item 1A—Regulatory developments in Europe could limit our ability to compete...”

Other Regulation

Our businesses continue to be subject to regulations affecting issues such as: exports of technology, telecommunications, data privacy and electronic commerce. Any such regulations may vary among jurisdictions. We believe that we are capable of addressing these regulatory issues as they arise.

Seasonality

The travel industry is seasonal in nature. Travel bookings for our Sabre Travel Network business, and the revenue we derive from those bookings, decrease significantly each year in the fourth quarter, primarily in December. Customers generally book their November and December holiday leisure travel earlier in the year, and business travel declines during the holiday season. Travelocity revenues are also impacted by the seasonality of travel bookings, but to a lesser extent since commissions from car and hotel travel providers and net rate revenue for vacation packages and hotel stays are recognized at the date of consumption. The acquisition of lastminute.com has resulted in revenues and net earnings becoming more significant in the second and third quarters for the Travelocity segment due largely to European travel patterns. See the discussion on Seasonality in “Item 7—Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” for additional information.

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Research and Development Expenses

Research and development expenses represent costs incurred to investigate and gain new knowledge that could be useful in developing a new product or service and then translating those findings into a plan or design for a product or service. Our research and development expenses approximated $26 million, $26 million and $32 million for 2006, 2005 and 2004, respectively.

Segment Information

Financial information for our operating segments and geographical revenues and assets are included in Note 13 to the Consolidated Financial Statements.

Intellectual Property

We use software, business processes and other proprietary information to carry out our business. These assets and related patents, copyrights, trade secrets, trademarks and other intellectual property rights are significant assets of our business. We rely on a combination of patent, copyright, trade secret and trademark laws, confidentiality procedures and contractual provisions to protect these assets. We seek patent protection on key technology and business processes of our business. Our software and related documentation are also protected under trade secret and copyright laws where appropriate. We also seek statutory and common-law protection of our trademarks where appropriate. The laws of some foreign jurisdictions may provide less protection than the laws of the United States for our proprietary rights. Unauthorized use of our intellectual property could have a material adverse effect on us and there can be no assurance that our legal remedies would adequately compensate us for the damages to our business caused by such use.

Employees

As of December 31, 2006, we had approximately 9,000 employees. A central part of our philosophy is to attract and maintain a highly capable staff. We consider our current employee relations to be good. Our employees based in the United States are not represented by a labor union.

Available Information

We are subject to the informational requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, and in accordance therewith, we file reports, proxy and information statements and other information with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Our Annual Reports on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, Current Reports on Form 8-K, proxy and information statements and other information and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 are available through the Investor Relations section of our Website under the links to “—Financial Information—SEC Filings.” Our Internet address is www.sabre-holdings.com. Reports are available free of charge as soon as reasonably practicable after we electronically file them with, or furnish them to, the SEC. In addition, our officers and directors file with the SEC initial statements of beneficial ownership and statements of change in beneficial ownership of our securities, which are also available on our website at the same location. We are not including this or any other information on our website as a part of, nor incorporating it by reference into, this Form 10-K or any of our other SEC filings.

In addition to our website, you may read and copy public reports we file with or furnish to the SEC at the SEC’s Public Reference Room at 100 F Street, NE, Washington, DC 20549. You may obtain information on the operation of the Public Reference Room by calling the SEC at 1-800-732-0330. The SEC maintains an Internet site that contains our reports, proxy and information statements, and other information that we file electronically with the SEC at www.sec.gov.

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ITEM 1A.             RISK FACTORS

RISK FACTORS

Risks associated with an investment in our securities, and with achieving the forward-looking statements contained in this report or in our news releases, websites, public filings, investor and analyst conferences or elsewhere, include, but are not limited to, the risk factors described below. Any of the risk factors described below could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. We may not succeed in addressing these challenges and risks.

Completion of the sale of the Company to Silver Lake Partners and Texas Pacific Group is subject to various conditions and the transaction may not occur even if we obtain stockholder approval.

Completion of the merger is subject to various risks, including but not limited to those set forth below. The list is not intended to be an exhaustive list of the risks related to the merger and should be read in conjunction with the other information in our definitive Proxy Statement dated February 21, 2007.

·         Stockholders holding at least a majority of the shares of our outstanding Common Stock entitled to vote might not vote to adopt the merger agreement;

·     Our failure or the failure of Silver Lake Partners and Texas Pacific Group to obtain the required regulatory approvals by foreign governments regarding the merger (the required approval from U.S. authorities was received on January 26, 2007 when the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act ended without further action by U.S. competition officials);

·         The enactment of a law or issuance of an order by a governmental authority prohibiting the merger or other transactions contemplated by the merger agreement;

·         The pendency of a non-frivolous suit or action, or any governmental proceeding, challenging or seeking to restrain the sale or the ability of Silver Lake Partners and Texas Pacific Group to acquire our Common Stock;

·         The failure of any other conditions in the merger agreement; and

·         The failure of the sale of the Company to be completed for any other reason.

As a result of these risks, there can be no assurance that the sale of the Company will be completed even if we obtain stockholder approval.

Failure to complete the sale of the Company could negatively impact the market price of our Common Stock and operation of our businesses.

An investment in our Common Stock is subject to risks related to a failure to complete the sale of the Company to Silver Lake Partners and Texas Pacific Group, including:

·         the market price of our Common Stock could decline to the extent that the current market price of our stock reflects a market assumption that the sale will be completed;

·         costs related to the sale, such as legal fees, and, in specified circumstances, termination fees and expense reimbursements, must be paid even if the sale is not completed; and

If our merger agreement is terminated and our Board of Directors seeks to sell the Company to another purchaser or to pursue a business combination, then our stockholders cannot be certain that we will be able to find an acquirer willing to pay an equivalent or better price than the price agreed to be paid under the merger agreement.

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Our revenues are highly dependent on the travel and transportation industries, and particularly on air travel, and a prolonged substantial decrease in travel transaction volumes could adversely affect us.

Our revenue increases and decreases with the level of travel and transportation activity. The travel industry is seasonal and our revenue varies significantly from quarter to quarter. Our revenue is also highly subject to declines in or disruptions to travel and transportation that may be caused by factors entirely out of our control. For example, negative perceptions held by travelers about the following factors may adversely affect travel activity:

·         economic downturns, rising fuel costs and the financial instability of travel suppliers,

·         political instability, acts of terrorism, hostilities and war,

·         security issues, including increased airport security,

·         inclement weather, including hurricanes,

·         increased occurrence of travel-related accidents, and

·         travelers’ concerns about exposure to contagious diseases.

A prolonged substantial decrease in travel transaction volumes could have an adverse impact on our financial performance, operations, liquidity, or capital resources.

Changes to our travel supplier relationships may reduce our revenues.

Most of our revenue is derived from airlines, hotel operators, car rental companies, cruise and tour operators and other suppliers in the travel and transportation industry. We depend on a relatively small number of airlines for a significant portion of our revenues. To compete effectively in the travel distribution industry, we must offer broad, dependable access to airline content and features such as schedules, seat availability and fares, including web fares. Airlines and other suppliers may choose to limit our access to their content or the features and benefits they offer travelers in connection with the sale of their services. If our access to supplier-provided content or features and benefits were to be diminished relative to our competitors, our business could be materially adversely affected. Because offerings from major airlines represent a large part of our business, if the Sabre GDS were to lack the ability to facilitate bookings on one or more major airlines, our distribution channels would be relatively less attractive to travel agencies and travel purchasers, which could reduce our transaction fee revenue and materially adversely affect our business. Several major airlines in the United States are experiencing liquidity problems. Some of those airlines are considering consolidation, others have sought bankruptcy protection, and still others may consider bankruptcy relief. The financial instability of airlines or other travel suppliers could have a material negative impact on our business.

Travel suppliers are pursuing distribution options that may reduce our access to content, which could reduce our revenues.

Some travel suppliers are seeking to decrease their reliance on distribution intermediaries, including global distribution systems such as our Sabre GDS, by promoting other distribution channels. Many airlines, hotels, car rental companies, cruise and tour operators have call centers and have established their own travel distribution websites. From time to time, travel suppliers offer advantages, such as bonus loyalty awards, lower transaction fees or discounted prices, when their products and services are purchased from supplier-related channels. Our Sabre GDS also competes with competitors who may offer less content, functionality and marketing reach at a relatively lower cost to suppliers. In addition, search engine providers are attempting to enter the online travel marketplace by aggregating travel search results across supplier, travel agent and other travel-related websites. If our access to supplier-provided content or features were to be diminished relative to our competitors, our business could be materially adversely affected. See “Business TrendsTrends Affecting Our Airline-Related Businesses” and “Business TrendsTrends Affecting Competition in Travel Commerce.

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Customers may reduce transactions through our distribution channels, which could reduce our revenues.

Our portfolio of travel distribution businesses includes channels that support the travel agency, business-direct and consumer-direct segments of the global travel distribution marketplace. We believe that we and our customers benefit when we broadly participate in the travel distribution industry, including our direct to traveler services. Broad participation in the industry gives us a competitive advantage, including greater scale of our technology and other synergies. In all of these distribution channels, we face significant competition.

·         In the travel agency channel, our Sabre GDS historically has competed with other large and well-established global distribution systems.

·         In the business-direct channel, both the Travelocity Business travel service and Sabre Travel Network GetThere products compete with similar offerings from travel agencies, airlines and other suppliers.

·         In the consumer-direct channel, Travelocity competes not only against similar offerings from affiliates of other global distribution systems, but also with travel suppliers, online vertical search engines, and a large number of online travel agencies.

·         Our Sabre Airline Solutions business unit competes against several organizations offering internal reservation system and related technology services to airlines.

In some circumstances, our business segments have objectives that lead to conflicts with customers of our other business segments. For example, our Travelocity and Travelocity Business operations compete with travel-agency subscribers of Sabre Travel Network. That competition could cause current or potential travel agency subscribers to elect to use competing GDS providers, websites or other channels of travel distribution, which could reduce our transaction fee revenue and materially adversely affect our business. If our competitors introduce new pricing or offerings that we cannot meet in a timely or cost-effective manner, our customers may elect to use other travel distribution channels and our business may be materially adversely affected. In addition, travelers and other persons may use our websites and other resources to obtain schedules, availability, pricing and other travel information and then elect to purchase travel from a competitor, which would tend to increase our costs without producing revenue.

Consolidation in the travel industry and increased competition for customers may increase costs and reduce revenue.

Consolidation among participants in the travel industry may increase their negotiating leverage, thereby providing them with competitive advantages over us that may increase our costs and reduce our revenues. Consolidation among travel suppliers, such as major hotel and airline mergers and alliances, may increase competition from these supplier-related distribution channels or give them additional leverage to negotiate lower transaction fees payable to our travel distribution channels, including the Sabre GDS. In order for our distribution channels to obtain access to important airline content offerings, we are evaluating various pricing models for airline suppliers.

GDSs, such as our Sabre GDS, compete to attract and retain travel agencies. Some travel suppliers have reduced or eliminated commissions paid to travel agencies (including consumer-direct travel sites like Travelocity). The loss of supplier commissions causes travel agencies to become more dependent on other sources of revenues, such as traveler-paid service fees and GDS-paid incentives. The reduction or elimination of supplier-paid commissions has forced some smaller travel agencies to close or to combine with larger travel agencies. Although the Sabre GDS has a leading share of large travel agencies, competition is particularly intense among global distribution systems for larger travel agency subscribers, including online travel agencies. Consolidation of travel agencies may increase competition for these subscribers and increase the ability of those agencies to negotiate higher GDS paid incentives. In order to compete effectively, we may need to increase incentives, pre-pay incentives, increase spending on marketing or product development, or make significant investments to purchase strategic assets.

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Consolidation among competitors that offer global distributions systems, such as the announced merger of TravelPort and Worldspan LLP, may provide those companies cost or revenue advantages as compared to the Sabre GDS adversely affecting our ability to successfully maintain and grow our transaction revenues.

Travelocity’s revenue growth largely depends on international growth and on expanding net rate (merchant) programs.

Travelocity’s revenue growth is driven by expanding global use of the Internet and driving purchases through our online travel websites. The online travel marketplace, especially in Europe, is highly competitive, with independent online travel agencies, suppliers’ proprietary websites, and in some regions the websites of tour wholesalers, competing for customers. Travelocity’s business strategy largely depends on growing its net rate program offerings (commonly referred to in the industry as “merchant model” programs, because the online agency is the merchant of record for credit card processing). Growing the net rate programs is particularly dependent upon our ability to offer adequate hotel rooms. Many hoteliers utilize net rate programs to dispose of excess hotel rooms at discounted rates. If demand increases for suppliers’ products, services and other content offerings, suppliers may limit our right to distribute their offerings or may increase the cost of those offerings. Travelocity’s business strategy also depends on expanding its dynamically packaged offerings, maintaining the breadth of its access to supplier offerings, developing its brand in a cost-effective manner in the United States, Europe, Asia and other growth regions, increasing traffic to its websites (including direct distribution as well as through current and future distribution partners), and expanding the appeal of the Travelocity Business tool to business travelers. We also plan to invest strategically in growth opportunities, and if any of these initiatives is not successful, or requires extensive investment, Travelocity’s growth may be limited and it may be unable to achieve or maintain profitability.

We may be unsuccessful in pursuing and integrating business combinations, strategic alliances, or products and technologies, which could result in increased expenditures or cause us to fail to achieve anticipated cost savings or revenue growth.

We are currently seeking to integrate recently acquired businesses as described in this report, including our acquisition of lastminute.com. There are risks inherent in these types of transactions, such as: difficulty in assimilating or integrating the operations, technology and personnel of the combined companies; difficulties and costs associated with integrating and evaluating the internal control systems of acquired businesses; disruption of our ongoing business, including loss of management focus on existing businesses and marketplace developments; problems retaining key technical and managerial personnel; expenses associated with the amortization of identifiable intangible assets; additional or unanticipated operating losses, expenses or liabilities of acquired businesses; impairment of relationships with existing employees, customers and business partners; and fluctuations in value and losses that may arise from equity investments.

In addition, we plan to continue to examine possible business combinations, investments, joint ventures or other strategic alliances with other companies in order to maintain and grow revenue and marketplace presence. We may not be able to achieve the following: identify suitable candidates for additional business combinations and strategic investments; obtain financing on acceptable terms for such business combinations and strategic investments; or otherwise consummate such business combinations and strategic investments on acceptable terms. We may be unable to successfully complete potential acquisitions due to multiple factors, such as issues related to regulatory review of the proposed transactions. To consummate such transactions, we may need to raise external funds through the sale of stock and/or debt in the capital markets or through private placements, which might affect our liquidity.

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Rapid technological changes and new distribution channels or unauthorized use of intellectual property may adversely affect the value of our current or future technologies to us and our customers, which could cause us to increase expenditures to upgrade and protect our technology or develop and protect competing offerings in new distribution channels.

New distribution channels, technology and customer behavior in our industry are evolving rapidly. Our ability to compete and our future results depend in part on our continued ability to maintain and to make timely and cost-effective enhancements, upgrades and additions to our technology in response to changes in consumer preferences and increased demand for our products and services. We must also keep pace with rapid advancements in technology, standards and practices, and protect our technology. Maintaining flexibility to respond to technological and marketplace dynamics may require substantial expenditures and lead time. We cannot assure you that we will successfully identify and develop new products or services in a timely manner, that offerings, technologies or services developed by others will not render our offerings obsolete or noncompetitive, or that the technologies in which we focus our research and development investments will achieve acceptance in the marketplace and provide a return on our investment.

Unauthorized use of our intellectual property could have a material adverse effect on us, and our legal remedies may not adequately compensate us for the damages to our business caused by such use. Protecting our intellectual property from unauthorized use could be expensive and time-consuming. Additionally, claims that our products or services may infringe the intellectual property rights of others may require additional expenditures in resolving such claims and/or development of alternate technologies, either or which could be expensive and time-consuming.

We will encounter risks and difficulties similar to those frequently experienced in rapidly evolving industries such as the travel distribution industry.

Some of these risks relate to our ability to:

·         attract and retain customers on a cost-effective basis,

·         expand and enhance our service offerings, including the use of new technologies,

·         operate, support, expand and develop our operations, websites, software, data centers, communications and other systems,

·         maintain and diversify our sources of revenue, including by entering into agreements that may reflect changes to our Sabre GDS business model,

·         maintain and develop our existing brands and distribution channels, as well as to make cost-effective expenditures in connection with these initiatives,

·         manage our relationships with important travel suppliers and other industry participants, and

·         respond to competitive marketplace conditions.

If we are unsuccessful in addressing these risks or in executing our business strategy, our business, financial condition or results of operations may suffer.

We rely on third parties to provide critical systems and infrastructure.

With the exception of our lastminute.com operations, our businesses are largely dependent on the computer data centers and network systems operated for us by Electronic Data Systems Corporation. We also rely on other providers and on the global telecommunications infrastructure. We rely on several communications service suppliers and on the global Internet to provide network access between our computer data center and call centers and end-users of our services. The Travelocity (including the Site59® and lastminute.com websites) business is dependent upon GDSs (the Sabre GDS and others) to process travel bookings. If those providers do not enable us to provide our customers and suppliers with reliable, real-time access to our systems, our business may be materially adversely affected.

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Our success depends on maintaining the integrity of, and upgrading the quality of, our systems and infrastructure, which may suffer failures, capacity constraints and business interruptions, which could increase our operating costs and cause us to lose customers.

In order to be successful, we must provide reliable, real-time access to our systems for our customers and suppliers while also pursuing a low-cost model. Consumers and suppliers will not tolerate a service hampered by slow delivery times, unreliable service levels, service outages due to the installation of upgrades, or insufficient capacity. As our operations grow in both size and scope, we will continually need to improve and upgrade our systems and infrastructure to offer an increasing number of customers and travel suppliers enhanced products, services, features and functionality—all while maintaining the reliability and integrity of our systems and infrastructure and while pursuing reduced costs per transaction. The expansion of our systems and infrastructure will require us to commit substantial financial, operational and technical resources before the volume of business increases, with no assurance that the volume of business will increase. System capacity limits or constraints arising from unexpected increases in our volume of business could cause interruptions, outages or delays in our services, or deterioration in their performance, or could impair our ability to process transactions. We occasionally experience system interruptions that make unavailable some or all of our global distribution system or other data processing services (including the services that Sabre Airline Solutions provides to airlines). System interruptions may prevent us from efficiently providing services to our customers or other third parties, which could result in our losing customers and revenues, or incurring liabilities. Much of the computer and communications hardware upon which we depend is located in a single facility. Our systems might be damaged or interrupted by fire, flood, power loss, telecommunications failure, break-ins, earthquakes, terrorist attacks, hostilities or war or similar events. Computer viruses, denial of service attacks, physical or electronic break-ins and similar disruptions affecting the global Internet or our systems might cause service interruptions, delays and loss of critical data, and could prevent us from providing our services. Problems affecting our systems might be expensive to remedy and could significantly diminish our reputation and brand name and prevent us from providing services. We could be harmed by outages in, or unreliability of, the data center or network systems. The occurrence of any of these events could result in a material adverse effect on our business.

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Our collection, processing, storage, use and transmission of personal data may be restricted or result in liabilities.

In our processing of travel transactions, we collect, process, store, use and transmit large amounts of personally identifiable data about travelers. Our handling of these types of data is increasingly subject to legal restrictions around the world, which may result in conflicting legal requirements in the United States and other jurisdictions. Companies that handle these types of data have also been subject to investigations, lawsuits and adverse publicity due to allegedly improper disclosure of personally identifiable information. Our business could be materially adversely affected if legal restrictions on the use of personally identifiable information are expanded or are interpreted in ways that conflict with our business practices.

Tax issues have the potential to have an adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

We are subject to a variety of taxes in many jurisdictions globally. We establish reserves for our potential liability for taxes, consistent with applicable accounting principles and in light of all current facts and circumstances. Regarding value-added taxes, we have established reserves relating to the collection of refunds which are subject to audit and collection risks in various regions of Europe. The reserves represent our best estimate of our contingent liability for taxes. The interpretation of tax laws and the determination of any potential liability under those laws are complex, and the amount of our liability may exceed our established reserves and could therefore have a material adverse effect on our financial results.

Some state and local taxing authorities impose taxes on the sale, use or occupancy of hotel room accommodations, which are called transient, occupancy, accommodation, sales or hotel room taxes. Hotel operators generally collect and remit these occupancy taxes. Consistent with that practice, when a customer books a hotel room through one of our travel services under our net rate hotel program, we collect from the customer an amount sufficient to pay the hotel its room charge and the occupancy taxes on that charge, as well as an additional amount that represents our fees. We do not collect or remit occupancy taxes on our fees. Some tax authorities claim that occupancy taxes should be collected on some or all of those fees. We believe there are strong arguments that our fees are not subject to occupancy taxes (although tax laws vary among the jurisdictions). We are attempting to resolve this issue with tax authorities in various jurisdictions, but we cannot predict the resolution in any particular jurisdiction. Any actual liability we may have for occupancy taxes, or the size of the reserve we may establish for those taxes, could be affected by a variety of factors, such as the number of jurisdictions that prevail in either assessing additional occupancy taxes or negotiating a settlement with us, the amount of fees potentially subject to tax in each jurisdiction, changes in applicable tax laws, and the timing of any or all of the foregoing.

Regulatory developments in Europe could limit our ability to compete by removing key protections needed to safeguard competition where locally strong airlines retain ownership interests in a CRS, and regulatory developments elsewhere could, among other things, inhibit our flexibility to contract with airlines or travel agencies, which could cause our customers to be diverted to our competitors and adversely affect our revenue and results of operations.

The E.U. Commission has suggested the potential elimination of its rules governing CRS systems. It is unclear when or if the E.U. Commission will make such a formal proposal, or if it does, the final changes that might ultimately be made to those rules. Because large E.U.-based airlines retain substantial ownership interests in one CRS, we could be unfairly and adversely affected if, for example, the E.U. Commission were to eliminate current requirements for airlines that own an interest in a CRS to participate equally in other CRSs. We also could be adversely affected in Europe or elsewhere if restrictions were imposed or continued on CRS advertising and displays, or if additional limitations were placed upon our right to contract with travel agents or airlines. We could also be adversely affected if changes to any of the foregoing CRS rules or to other general laws affecting our businesses, or if decisions made under such rules or laws, were to increase our cost of doing business or otherwise impair our flexibility.

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Our international operations are subject to other risks, which may impede our ability to grow internationally and adversely affect our overall results of operations.

We continually seek to expand the reach of our various businesses into international markets as well as to successfully integrate, operate and manage our existing and future international operations. Our international operations are subject to risks, including those listed below, that may adversely affect our ability to conduct and grow business internationally and could materially adversely affect our business:

·         changes in foreign currency exchange rates;

·         difficulty in developing, managing and staffing international operations as a result of distance, language and cultural differences;

·         disruptions to communication and transportation services;

·         business, political and economic instability in foreign locations, including actual or threatened terrorist activities, and military action;

·         adverse laws, governmental policies or actions, such as consumer, labor and trade protection measures; taxes, restrictions on foreign investment limits on the repatriation of funds; and lesser protection for intellectual property; and

·         economic and political conditions, including adverse political or consumer reactions in the United States.

ITEM 1B.             UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS

We had no unresolved SEC staff comments through December 31, 2006.

ITEM 2.                     PROPERTIES

In June 2003, Sabre Inc. refinanced the syndicated lease arrangement regarding our corporate headquarters facility (three buildings and two parking structures on approximately 180 acres) in Southlake, Texas, and entered into a ten-year master lease, accounted for as a capital lease. The initial term of the lease expires in 2013 with an option to purchase all or a portion of these facilities and/or the undeveloped land prior to or upon expiration of the lease. An option to purchase one of the three headquarters buildings (and the relevant parking structure) along with approximately 145 acres of undeveloped land (“Solana”) from the capital lease was exercised on December 8, 2006. After exercising the purchase option, the Solana facilities were sold to a third party for $80 million and leased back for a five-year term. The capital lease is still in place for the remaining two buildings (and relevant parking structure) and approximately 35 acres of undeveloped land. We plan to re-accommodate the approximately 1,200 employees currently occupying the Solana building in two other headquarters buildings, also in Southlake, Texas and vacate the Solana building in late 2007 or early 2008, prior to the expiration of the five-year lease term. Upon vacating the Solana building, we expect to take a one-time charge of approximately $31 million to $36 million related to future obligations under the leaseback.

Additionally, we lease office facilities in Westlake, Texas, under leases expiring in 2008. These facilities are utilized by each of our three business units. We also lease office facilities for our business units in approximately 146 other locations worldwide. These locations serve a variety of functions including facilities for various operating subsidiaries, branch offices in international locations and customer call centers.

In July 2005, we acquired 31 office locations throughout Europe as a result of our acquisition of lastminute.com. These locations operate within our Travelocity segment. We currently occupy 18 of the locations; three are sublet, four are currently vacant and six were closed in 2006 as a part of our lastminute.com restructuring plan.

EDS subleases a large office facility from us in Fort Worth, Texas, under a sublease that will expire in 2019. We also sublease five small office facilities in North America to various companies.

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We believe that our office facilities will be adequate for our immediate needs and could accommodate expansion.

ITEM 3.                     LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

The litigation matters described below involve issues or claims that may be of particular interest to the Company’s stockholders, regardless of whether any of these matters may be material to the financial position or operations of the Company based upon the standard set forth in the SEC’s rules.

We are a party to three separate law suits arising from the pending sale of the Company to affiliates of Texas Pacific Group and Silver Lake Partners.

On December 12, 2006, purported shareholder class actions styled Jack McBride v. Sabre Holdings Corp., et al. (Case No. 236-221611-06) and Lillian Chait v. Sabre Holdings Corp., et al. (Case No. 067-221619-06) were filed in the Tarrant County District Court for the State of Texas on behalf of the holders of our Common Stock in connection with the merger. Both complaints name as defendants Sabre Holdings and its Board of Directors. The complaints allege that Sabre Holdings’ directors breached their fiduciary duties by adopting the merger agreement and approving the merger. The complaints purport to seek declaratory relief, an injunction preventing completion of the merger, the recovery of unspecified damages, and plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees. On January 22, 2007, Chait voluntarily dismissed her complaint. On February 7, 2007, an amended complaint was filed in the McBride action. The amended complaint contains similar allegations to the original complaint and adds allegations that Sabre Holdings’ directors have not fully and fairly disclosed all material information relating to the merger. We continue to believe the lawsuit is without merit and intend to defend the action vigorously.

On January 4, 2007, Joseph Holowach filed a purported shareholder derivative complaint in the Tarrant County District Court for the State of Texas, Case No. 017-221963-07 against the Board of Directors, Texas Pacific Group and Silver Lake Partners; the Company is named as a “nominal defendant.” The complaint purports to allege causes of action for breach of fiduciary duty and abuse of control in connection with the adoption of the merger agreement. The complaint does not seek monetary damages from the Company. The Company believes the lawsuit to be without merit, and not in the best interests of the Company, and intends to defend it vigorously.

ITEM 4.                     SUBMISSION OF MATTERS TO A VOTE OF SECURITY HOLDERS

No matters were submitted to a vote of our security holders during the fourth quarter of the fiscal year ended December 31, 2006.

22




PART II

ITEM 5.                     MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES

Our Class A Common Stock, par value $0.01 per share (“Common Stock”) is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (symbol TSG). The approximate number of holders of record of our Common Stock at February 20, 2007 was 8,454.

The range of the high and low sales prices for our Common Stock as reported by the New York Stock Exchange by quarter for the two most recent fiscal years were:

 

High

 

Low

 

Quarter Ended:

 

 

 

 

 

December 31, 2006

 

$

32.12

 

$

23.06

 

September 30, 2006

 

$

23.58

 

$

20.50

 

June 30, 2006

 

$

23.56

 

$

20.44

 

March 31, 2006

 

$

25.71

 

$

23.30

 

Quarter Ended:

 

 

 

 

 

December 31, 2005

 

$

24.90

 

$

18.93

 

September 30, 2005

 

$

20.45

 

$

18.26

 

June 30, 2005

 

$

22.24

 

$

19.19

 

March 31, 2005

 

$

22.21

 

$

19.84

 

 

DIVIDENDS

During 2004, 2005 and 2006, we paid out the following cash dividends:

Declaration Date

 

 

 

Payable Date

 

Amount per Share

 

2004:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 20, 2004

 

February 17, 2004

 

 

$

0.075

 

 

April 20, 2004

 

May 14, 2004

 

 

0.075

 

 

July 20, 2004

 

August 16, 2004

 

 

0.075

 

 

October 26, 2004

 

November 15, 2004

 

 

0.075

 

 

2005:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February 1, 2005

 

February 28, 2005

 

 

$

0.090

 

 

May 3, 2005

 

May 26, 2005

 

 

0.090

 

 

July 26, 2005

 

August 18, 2005

 

 

0.090

 

 

November 1, 2005

 

November 29, 2005

 

 

0.090

 

 

2006:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 30, 2006

 

February 28, 2006

 

 

$

0.100

 

 

May 1, 2006

 

May 25, 2006

 

 

0.100

 

 

August 1, 2006

 

August 28, 2006

 

 

0.100

 

 

October 11, 2006

 

November 10, 2006

 

 

0.130

 

 

 

On January 30, 2007, our Board of Directors approved a dividend of $0.13 per share payable on March 5, 2007 to stockholders of record at February 16, 2007.

23




Subject to the pending sale of the Company to Texas Pacific Group and Silver Lake Partners, our Board of Directors currently intends to consider declaring and paying comparable future dividends on a regular quarterly basis, subject to our ability to pay dividends and to a determination by management and our Board of Directors that dividends continue to be in the Company’s best interests and those of our stockholders. For additional information on dividends see the following sections of this Form 10-K: “Liquidity and Capital Resources” in Part II, Item 7; “Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows” and “Consolidated Statements of Shareholders’ Equity” in Part II, Item 8.

ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES

On October 25, 2004, our Board of Directors approved a share repurchase program authorizing us to repurchase up to $100 million of our Common Stock. We completed this authorization in March 2005 with the purchase of 2,042,063 shares of our Common Stock during the first three months of 2005. All purchases were made through the open market pursuant to 10b5-1 trading plans.

On May 2, 2005, we received authorization from our Board of Directors to repurchase an additional $100 million of our Common Stock. No purchases of our Common Stock have been made under this authorization as of the date of this report. As in the past, implementation of the program is at management’s discretion and will depend on the best uses for our available cash and cash equivalents.

On October 20, 2003, our Board of Directors issued a standing annual authorization to purchase shares of our Common Stock to satisfy our obligations to deliver shares under our Employee Stock Purchase Plan and our Long-Term Incentive Plan (the “Alternative Share Settlement Program”). We purchased 850,000 shares of our Common Stock under this authorization in December 2003, 840,000 shares of our Common Stock under this authorization in January 2005 and 1,100,000 shares of our Common Stock under this authorization in May and June 2006 through the open market pursuant to Rule 10b5-1 trading plans.

We expect that the timing, volume and price of any future repurchases of our Common Stock will be made pursuant to trading plans that we intend as qualifying under Rule 10b5-1, unless such plans are terminated at the discretion of management.

We made no repurchases of our Common Stock during the last quarter of 2006:

Period

 

 

 

Total
Number of
Shares
Purchased

 

Weighted-
Average
Price Paid
per Share

 

Total Number of
Shares Purchased
as Part of a
Publicly
Announced
Program

 

Value of Shares
That May Yet be
Purchased Under

such Programs (1)

 

October 1, 2006 - October 31, 2006

 

 

 

 

 

n/a

 

 

 

 

 

 

$

100,000,000

 

 

November 1, 2006 - November 30, 2006

 

 

 

 

 

n/a

 

 

 

 

 

 

$

100,000,000

 

 

December 1, 2006 - December 31, 2006

 

 

 

 

 

n/a

 

 

 

 

 

 

$

100,000,000

 

 

Total 4th Quarter 2006 Repurchases

 

 

 

 

 

n/a

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


(1)            Our Board of Directors did not impose a set limit on the repurchase authority under the Alternative Shares Settlement Program described above. The amount purchased is dependent on the number of shares required to satisfy our obligations to deliver shares under the Employee Stock Purchase Plan and Long-Term Incentive Plan.

For additional information on purchases of equity securities see the following sections of this Form 10-K: “Liquidity and Capital Resources” in Part II, Item 7; “Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows” and “Consolidated Statements of Shareholders’ Equity” in Part II, Item 8.

24




ITEM 6.                     SELECTED CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL DATA

The following selected financial data should be read in conjunction with “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and “Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data.” We have derived the selected financial data set forth below from our audited financial statements and related notes.

·         We have completed 11 acquisitions during the years 2002 through 2006 which affect the comparability of the selected consolidated financial data presented. The table below summarizes these transactions. For further information regarding these transactions, see “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements.

Year

 

 

 

Purchase price

 

acquired

 

Entity

 

(in millions)

 

2006

 

Zuji Holdings Limited (1)

 

 

$

35

 

 

 

 

TRAMS, Inc.

 

 

$

22

 

 

2005

 

SynXis Corporation

 

 

$

41

 

 

 

 

lastminute.com plc

 

 

$

1,171

 

 

2004

 

RM Rocade AB and RM Rocade Assist AB

 

 

$

15

 

 

 

 

All State Tours, Inc.

 

 

$

25

 

 

 

 

Travelocity Europe—Remaining 50% of the non-German operations

 

 

$

33

 

 

 

 

Sabre Travel Network Middle East Joint Venture—60% ownership

 

 

$

31

 

 

2003

 

Dillon Communications Systems GmbH (“Dillon”)—remaining 49% interest

 

 

$

30

 

 

 

 

World Choice Travel, Inc.

 

 

$

50

 

 

2002

 

Site59.com, Inc.

 

 

$

44

 

 


(1)            Zuji Holdings Limited was consolidated on November 7, 2005 in compliance with FIN 46R. On January 24, 2006, upon exercise of a put option, we purchased the remaining 90% of Zuji that we did not already own (see Note 4 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for further discussion).

·         On April 8, 2002, we completed a $28 per share cash tender offer for all of the approximately 16.7 million outstanding publicly held common shares of Travelocity.com that we did not own. Prior to the tender offer, we had an approximate 70% ownership stake in Travelocity.com. We consolidated Travelocity.com and accounted for the 30% outside ownership as a minority interest. After the tender offer, we effected a short-form merger on April 11, 2002, whereby Travelocity.com became our indirect 100% owned subsidiary.

25




The following table presents selected historical financial data for each of the five years in the period ended December 31, 2006:

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2006

 

2005

 

2004

 

2003 (2)

 

2002 (2)

 

 

 

(in millions, except per share data and other data where indicated)

 

Income Statement Data (5) (7):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Revenues (9) (10)

 

$

2,823.8

 

$

2,521.3

 

$

2,131.0

 

$

2,045.2

 

$

2,056.5

 

Operating expenses, excluding amortization of intangible assets (8) (9)

 

2,466.8

 

2,212.2

 

1,825.4

 

1,822.7

 

1,685.6

 

Amortization of intangible assets (1)

 

71.9

 

48.2

 

46.9

 

56.3

 

53.4

 

Operating income

 

285.1

 

260.9

 

258.7

 

166.2

 

317.5

 

Other income (expense), net (6)

 

(68.6

)

(24.6

)

(3.3

)

(38.4

)

21.4

 

Minority interests

 

3.7

 

8.4

 

1.7

 

(0.4

)

0.2

 

Income from continuing operations before provision for income taxes

 

220.2

 

244.7

 

257.1

 

127.4

 

339.1

 

Provision for income taxes

 

64.6

 

72.5

 

66.7

 

44.1

 

125.0

 

Net earnings

 

$

155.6

 

$

172.2

 

$

190.4

 

$

83.3

 

$

214.1

 

Earnings per common share—basic:

 

$

1.19

 

$

1.33

 

$

1.40

 

$

0.59

 

$

1.53

 

Earnings per common share—diluted:

 

$

1.18

 

$

1.32

 

$

1.38

 

$

0.58

 

$

1.50

 

Dividends per common share

 

$

0.43

 

$

0.36

 

$

0.30

 

$

0.21

 

$

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2006

 

2005

 

2004

 

2003 (2)

 

2002 (2)

 

 

 

(in millions, except per share data and other data where indicated)

 

Balance Sheet Data

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(at end of period) (5) (7):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Current assets

 

$

1,136.9

 

$

1,248.3

 

$

1,273.5

 

$

1,347.7

 

$

1,288.0

 

Goodwill and intangible assets, net (1) (7)

 

$

2,494.5

 

$

2,333.1

 

$

988.6

 

$

891.7

 

$

859.5

 

Total assets

 

$

4,282.4

 

$

4,374.1

 

$

3,018.0

 

$

2,966.5

 

$

2,771.9

 

Current liabilities (9) (10)

 

$

1,102.1

 

$

1,885.8

 

$

608.3

 

$

503.4

 

$

499.9

 

Minority interests

 

$

1.8

 

$

38.9

 

$

5.1

 

$

6.5

 

$

10.3

 

Long-term capital lease obligation (11)

 

$

84.9

 

$

158.2

 

$

161.1

 

$

160.7

 

$

 

Public and other notes payable

 

$

975.2

 

$

426.4

 

$

439.3

 

$

442.5

 

$

450.8

 

Stockholders’ equity

 

$

1,923.4

 

$

1,643.1

 

$

1,626.5

 

$

1,680.1

 

$

1,641.6

 

Other Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total transactions through the Sabre system (in thousands) (2) (3)

 

357,170

 

342,681

 

330,398

 

314,924

 

343,623

 

Operating margin

 

10.1

%

10.3

%

12.1

%

8.1

%

15.4

%

Ratio of earnings to fixed charges (4)

 

3.37

 

4.91

 

8.63

 

5.34

 

11.69

 

Cash flows from operating activities (12)

 

$

378.6

 

$

225.5

 

$

361.4

 

$

277.9

 

$

303.6

 

Cash flows provided by (used for) investing activities (12)

 

$

9.3

 

$

(833.9

)

$

(99.0

)

$

(165.2

)

$

(680.9

)

Cash flows provided by (used for) financing activities (12)

 

$

(298.7

)

$

698.1

 

$

(255.4

)

$

(94.4

)

$

379.7

 

Capital expenditures (12)

 

$

108.9

 

$

91.7

 

$

78.0

 

$

71.5

 

$

62.7

 


(1)    The results of operations for the periods presented were impacted by our merger and acquisition activities. See Notes 2 and 4 to the Consolidated Financial Statements and “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” for additional information regarding mergers and acquisitions. Amortization of intangible assets includes both cost of revenues for purchased technology and selling, general and administrative expense for other purchased intangible assets.

26




(2)    On September 11, 2001, the United States was the target of terrorist attacks of unprecedented scope involving the hijacking and destruction of multiple passenger aircraft operated by commercial air carriers. After those attacks, all of our business segments were adversely affected by the state of the United States economy, by the possibility of terrorist attacks, possible military action, by the financial instability of many air carriers, by delays resulting from added security measures at airports and from channel shift. Our revenues and results of operations for the years ended December 31, 2002 and 2003 were negatively affected by this continued reduction in travel and from channel shift. In 2004, 2005 and 2006, the security and channel shift concerns remain, however, travel demand did increase these years resulting in growth in our transactions. The following table shows our year-over-year percentage increase (decrease) in total transactions through the Sabre system and North America transactions by year:

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2006

 

2005

 

2004

 

2003

 

2002

 

Total transactions through the Sabre system (3)

 

 

4.2

%

 

 

3.7

%

 

 

4.9

%

 

(8.4

)%

(8.2

)%

Total North America transactions through the Sabre system (3)

 

 

4.7

%

 

 

2.2

%

 

 

4.6

%

 

(10.2

)%

(10.9

)%

 

(3)    Transaction count includes transactions that generate a fee paid directly to Sabre related to a travel reservation, including the following: traditional booking fees paid by suppliers, non-traditional transaction fees paid by suppliers, transaction fees paid by travel agencies, and transaction fees paid by corporations related to our online booking tool.

(4)    For purposes of computing the ratio of earnings to fixed charges, earnings consist of the sum of income from continuing operations before income taxes and the cumulative effect of change in accounting method, interest expense and the portion of rent expense deemed to represent interest. Fixed charges consist of interest incurred, including amortization of debt issuance costs, if applicable, and the portion of rent expense deemed to represent interest.

(5)    See Note 5 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for discussion of the impact of other significant events and transactions on the periods presented.

(6)    In 2002, we recorded an $18 million gain in other income from the sale of our former corporate headquarters building. During 2003, we recorded a $28 million loss relating to the required residual value guarantee payment in connection with terminating our syndicated lease facility. The 2005 increase in expense is primarily due to interest on the $800 million bridge facility obtained to partially finance our acquisition of lastminute.com. In 2006, interest expense increased due to a full year of outstanding debt related to the acquisition of lastminute.com.

(7)    On July 20, 2005, we completed the acquisition of lastminute.com, a leading online travel agency and leisure company in Europe. lastminute.com has been included in our Consolidated Statements of Income from the date of acquisition. In order to help finance the acquisition, we obtained an $800 million bridge facility (See Note 7 to the Consolidated Financial Statements) which was repaid in full during the first quarter of 2006 with $220 million of existing cash and cash equivalents and $580 million of debt (See “Item 7. Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Liquidity and Capital Resources—Financing Arrangements”). The assets acquired and liabilities assumed are included in our Consolidated Balance Sheets based on results of an independent valuation.

27




(8)    On January 1, 2006 we adopted SFAS 123R, using the modified prospective method, which requires that the measurement and recognition of share-based payment awards to employees and directors of the company be made at the estimated fair value on the grant date. In the past, compensation expense related to our stock options was generally only included in pro forma financial statements and was not recognized in our financial statements. By adopting SFAS 123R, our operating expenses are $15 million higher in 2006 than they would have been under APB 25. See Note 12 to the Consolidated Financial Statements and “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” for additional information regarding stock compensation.

(9)    In the first quarter of 2006, we revised our estimate of the incentive liability to include $21 million in additional expense associated with our smaller travel agency customers that were previously recorded as payments were made. We also performed a similar analysis on revenues we received from smaller travel agencies which resulted in additional subscriber revenues of $7 million in the first quarter of 2006. See “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” for additional information.

(10)  Sabre Travel Network has a booking fee cancellation reserve that is calculated at each period end based on historical cancellation rates. In estimating the amount of future cancellations that will require us to refund a booking fee, we assume that a certain percentage of cancellations are followed immediately by a new reservation, without loss of revenue. In the first quarter of 2006, our estimate of the rebook rate increased, resulting in a $7 million decrease in the booking fee cancellation reserve. See Note 2 to the Consolidated Financial Statements and “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” for additional information.

(11)  In December 2006, we completed the sale of the Solana building, associated improvements and certain undeveloped land and other property rights at our Southlake, Texas headquarters (the “Property”) to Maguire Partners (“Maguire”) and began our five-year leaseback of the Solana building from Maguire. We completed the sale of the Property after exercising our option under the capital lease facility to purchase the Property, and we used the proceeds from the sale to repay a portion of the capital lease facility. See Note 8 to the Consolidated Financial Statements and “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” for additional information on this transaction.

(12)  Balance sheet and cash flows data for 2002 were reclassified to conform to 2006, 2005, 2004 and 2003 presentation.

28




ITEM 7.                     MANAGEMENT’S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS

We begin Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations with an overview of our business by segment. This is followed by a discussion of various trends that are occurring in our business and how those trends are impacting our business. We follow the discussion on trends with a description of the revenues and expenses by segment which is followed by our period over period results of operations for the described revenues and expenses. We then discuss our Consolidated Balance Sheets and Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows in the “Liquidity and Capital Resources” section. Lastly, we discuss our Critical Accounting Policies that we believe are important in understanding judgments and assumptions incorporated into our financial results.

The following discussion and analysis contains forward-looking statements about trends, uncertainties and our plans and expectations of what may happen in the future. Forward-looking statements are based on a number of assumptions and estimates that are inherently subject to significant risks and uncertainties, and our results could differ materially from the results anticipated by our forward-looking statements as a result of many known or unknown factors, including, but not limited to, those factors discussed in “Item 1ARisk Factors.”

The following discussion and analysis should be read in conjunction with “Item 6Selected Financial Data” and “Item 8Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” appearing elsewhere in this report.

Overview of Business

We operate our business through the following business segments:

Travelocity:   Our Travelocity segment markets and distributes travel-related products and services directly to individuals, including leisure travelers and business travelers, through Travelocity-owned websites and contact centers, and indirectly through websites and contact centers owned by its supplier, travel agency and distribution partners. Travelocity customers can access offerings, pricing and information about airlines, hotels, car rental companies, cruise lines, vacation and last-minute travel packages from Site59.com and lastminute.com, and other travel-related services such as show tickets and tours from lastminute.com, Showtickets.com™ or Travelocity on Location. For business travelers, the Travelocity Business service provides the integrated online corporate travel technology and full-service offering of our GetThere product along with the online expertise of Travelocity. For corporations, the Travelocity Business service offers a full-service corporate travel agency and the GetThere product provides a corporate online travel reservation system that works in conjunction with any travel agency a company chooses.

Travelocity facilitates transactions between travel suppliers and consumers for the booking of, and payment for, travel accommodations. Travelocity generates net revenue from providing such facilitation services equal to the total amount paid by the customer for products and services, minus its payment to the travel supplier. Travelocity also generates revenues from commissions or transaction fees from travel suppliers for the purchase of travel products and services pursuant to reservations made through our system. Additionally, Travelocity revenues include service fees charged to customers, advertising revenues and GDS incentives.

Sabre Travel Network:   Our Sabre Travel Network segment markets and distributes travel-related products and services through the travel agency and corporate channels. Travel agencies, both online and brick and mortar who serve our business and leisure customers, subscribe to our services. Our services provide travel agency subscribers information about, and the ability to reserve for and purchase travel-related products and services from airlines, hotels, car rental companies, cruise lines and others. We also provide travel agency office automation tools, enable travel agencies to provide services via the Internet and provide reservation management, distribution and technology services to hotel properties.

29




Sabre Travel Network primarily generates revenues from transaction fees charged to airlines and non-air travel suppliers who distribute their products and services through the Sabre system. Sabre Travel Network markets the Sabre GDS to travel suppliers, travel agency subscribers (online and brick and mortar) and corporations. A “transaction” is defined as any travel reservation that generates a fee paid directly to us including but not limited to the following: traditional booking fees paid by travel suppliers, non-traditional transaction fees paid by travel suppliers, transaction fees paid by travel agency subscribers, and transaction fees paid by corporations related to our online booking tool.

Sabre Airline Solutions:   Sabre Airline Solutions is a global leader in providing passenger management solutions, software products and related services, and consulting services to help airlines simplify operations and lower costs. We provide airline reservations, inventory and check-in hosting solutions that help airlines address the challenge of building and retaining customer loyalty through enhanced customer-centric offerings and service while also reducing costs. We also supply the decision-support software and technology necessary for airlines to improve profitability, increase revenue, streamline operations and improve workflow. We also offer a complete range of consulting services to the airline industry, ranging from one time to extended engagements. Typical engagements include projects such as achieving the necessary standards to join an alliance, preparing for privatization and optimizing current operations. Clients include airlines, airports, manufacturers and governments, as well as individuals, travel agencies and members of the financial community.

In 2006, approximately 36.2% of our revenue was generated from Travelocity, 54.4% from Sabre Travel Network and 9.4% from Sabre Airline Solutions based on segment results that include intersegment revenues. Compared to the year-ago period, revenues (including intersegment revenue) for the twelve months ended December 31, 2006 increased 30.5% for Travelocity, 1.3% for Sabre Travel Network and 8.3% for Sabre Airline Solutions.

For a more detailed discussion of our business, please refer to Item 1 of this Form 10-K.

Business Trends

The following is a discussion of trends that we believe are the most significant opportunities and challenges currently impacting our business and industry. The discussion also includes management’s assessment of what effects these trends are having on our businesses. In considering this discussion, you should also review the factors referred to in Part I, Item 1A: Risk Factors.

Trends Affecting Our Airline-Related Businesses

As a result of price competition, air travel has become increasingly affordable. Airlines seeking incremental revenue have made seat inventory available through lower-priced, non-traditional methods such as last-minute offerings, opaque sales and reverse auctions. Airlines have aggressively sought to reduce distribution costs and to control their relationships with travel purchasers. This has resulted in airline efforts to divert transactions away from GDS networks and towards their own reservation centers and websites and other distribution channels that airlines believe offer a lower expense per travel transaction or more control over the travel purchaser. Outside the United States, a few foreign carriers that have dominant positions in their national air transport markets appear to be experimenting with a number of initiatives for driving transactions to their own websites. In addition, low-price airlines represent a growing share of revenue passenger miles, and they have historically been less likely to fully participate in a GDS than are traditional full-service airlines. (Recently low-price carriers in the United States, such as AirTrans and JetBlue, have reversed this trend and have expanded their participation in GDSs.) Some of the advantages that airlines offer when their products and services are purchased through their preferred distribution channels, such as bonus loyalty awards, may not be available for purchases made through other intermediaries, or those intermediaries must accept lower transaction fees in exchange for access to the same advantages. These trends put pressure on airline-paid travel agency commissions and GDS revenues and the level of GDS-paid incentives to travel agencies.

30




Our business segments have performed well despite the trends affecting our airline-related businesses. Increasingly, we are offering airlines a portfolio of services across our business segments—offerings that are not easily matched by competitors who lack similar portfolios. We believe that our competitive position enables us to make value-based offerings to airlines and other suppliers, rather than merely cost-based offerings of transaction processing and other technology. We believe that our actions, including reducing booking fees, have mitigated the rate at which transactions have left the GDS channel for supplier-controlled channels. Recently, Sabre Travel Network has experienced a trend of increasing transaction volumes due to on-line agencies moving their bookings to us and the expansion of participation by some low-price airlines.

Trends Affecting Travel Industry Globalization and Consolidation

The travel industry is experiencing consolidation among travel suppliers, such as major hotels and airlines, as well as among travel agencies and other travel distributors. As a result of this consolidation and global expansion, large travel suppliers, agencies and distributors increasingly have greater scale and are able to provide a broader set of product offerings in a greater number of geographic marketplaces.

We are responding to these trends by growing our global reach and our scale. For example, we significantly expanded our presence in the European region through the acquisition of lastminute.com in 2005. We expect longer term growth opportunities there, as well as in Asia (particularly China and India) and in the Pacific Basin. As our operations grow in both size and scope, we are increasing the diversification of our product and service offerings and revenue sources. Broader global marketing reach and more points of sale improve our value proposition for travel suppliers, and increased scale enables cost synergies.

Trends Affecting Competition in Travel Commerce

Travelers, travel agents and travel suppliers are increasingly able to choose from a number of alternative distribution systems that enable travel shopping, booking and purchasing, including websites run by search engine companies and travel suppliers’ proprietary systems. Many of these alternative distribution systems lack the functionality and global reach of our services, deliver bookings with lower average yields, lack the infrastructure to adequately service and support travelers, and offer travelers more limited alternatives. The scale and functionality of our Sabre GDS provides a more complete travel distribution solution for travel suppliers and travel agencies and positions us well to compete in the travel commerce marketplace. We are responding to this increased competition by emphasizing our value proposition, focusing on our ability to offer services across our business segments, offering cost efficient products to suppliers, providing broader functionality and wider access to content, enabling greater geographic reach, and supporting higher average yields.

Trends Affecting Our Revenue Models

Historically, the vast majority of our revenues were derived from transaction fees paid by travel suppliers, measured by subscriber bookings generated through the Sabre GDS. From those fees, Sabre Travel Network pays incentives to its travel agency subscribers as a cost of revenue. Since 2000, we have increasingly become a travel marketing company, rather than a travel transaction processing company, as our revenue has become less directly tied to transaction processing volumes. Our revenue is also increasingly less dependent on air travel and more geographically diversified.

31




Travelocity, and to a lesser extent Sabre Travel Network, are increasingly promoting our net rate program, commonly referred to in the industry as a “merchant model program” due to the fact that we act as the merchant of record for credit card processing. Net rate travel offerings can include air travel, hotel stays, car rentals and combinations. Many hoteliers utilize net rate programs to dispose of excess hotel rooms at discounted rates. Under the net rate model, we act as an intermediary by agreeing to market products, services and other offerings for travel suppliers at predetermined net rates. We market these net rate offerings to travelers at a price that includes service fees that we retain, plus an amount sufficient to pay the travel supplier for its charge for providing the travel accommodations, along with any applicable taxes. For this type of business model, we require prepayment by the traveler at the time of booking. In addition, as long as the net rate program is growing, we experience improved operating cash flows as a result of receiving prepayments from customers while paying suppliers after the customer has traveled.

Trends Affecting Our Consumer-Related Businesses

Consumer use of the Internet for travel shopping and purchasing is increasing, but varies by geographic region. We believe that there are significant near-term growth opportunities in Europe, and longer term in Asia, while Internet travel commerce is more mature in the United States. The online travel marketplace is highly competitive, with independent online travel agencies, suppliers’ proprietary websites, travel search engines and others competing for customers. Online travel shoppers tend to compare alternatives and are sensitive to small price differences.

An increasing percentage of our revenues is derived from sales directly to travelers, principally through our Travelocity segment. Travelocity’s revenue growth depends on increasing purchases through our online travel websites, particularly of higher margin offerings. Travelocity’s business strategy also depends on differentiated, customer relationship management-based targeted marketing of a complete travel experience, rather than travel component sales. We are, therefore, focused on expanding our dynamically packaged offerings, growing our access to broad supplier offerings, and developing awareness of our brand in a cost-effective manner.

Trends Affecting Our Travel Agency-Related Businesses

Travel agencies are able to deliver value to travelers, corporations and the travel suppliers themselves by providing expertise and supporting the travel experience across multiple travel suppliers. Some travel suppliers, seeking to reduce distribution costs, have reduced or eliminated commissions paid to travel agencies, which has caused travel agencies to become more dependent on other sources of revenues, such as traveler-paid service fees and GDS-paid incentives. Supplier efforts to reduce distribution costs are also putting pressure on booking fees and the level of GDS-paid incentives to travel agencies based on booking volumes. Continued consolidation of travel agencies may increase competition among GDS companies for agency subscribers, and thereby increase the ability of those agencies to negotiate higher GDS-paid incentives. We recently introduced into the travel agency marketplace our Efficient Access Solution program, which reduces airline booking fees and travel agency incentives, while providing travel agencies with long-term assurances of access to full content from airlines and protection against airline-imposed service fees.

Our Sabre GDS competes to attract and retain travel agencies through a variety of qualities, including its breadth of content, ease of use, functionality, dependability, back office systems (e.g., TRAMSTM), client management systems (e.g., ClientBase®), consortia (Jurni Network®) and host agency services (Nexion®), as well as through the payment of incentives. We are increasingly focused on managing our incentive costs. The Sabre GDS has a leading share of large travel agencies, and competition to attract and retain large travel agency subscribers, including online travel agencies, is particularly intense. We are experiencing a trend of increasing bookings from online agencies, including Expedia, Priceline and lastminute.com. Expedia recently activated their long-term technology partnership with Sabre Travel Network and began processing reservations through our Sabre GDS. They also signed an extension of their relationship with us through 2012 and announced their support of our newly introduced Efficient Access Solution program.

32




Trends Affecting Our Hotel-Related Businesses

The majority of hotel stays are booked directly with an individual hotel property, or through the centralized call center for hotel chains or a marketing company.

We believe we are competitively well positioned to take advantage of significant opportunities to offer travel marketing services to hotel operators. As described under Trends Affecting Our Revenue Models, Travelocity, and to a lesser extent Sabre Travel Network, are increasingly promoting our net rate offerings, which can include air travel, hotel stays, car rentals and dynamically packaged combinations.

Trends in Cost Reduction

As part of our cost leadership strategy we are, as a standard practice, evaluating efficiency opportunities across the company to ensure that we optimally manage our operational costs. Some of these cost-saving opportunities have involved and may continue to involve globally-sourcing some of our operations (either by contracting with companies that work for us, such as through the opening of call centers we operate abroad, or by expanding our own operations abroad). We recently announced plans to outsource components of our European finance function to a single shared service center (see Note 5 to the Consolidated Financial Statements). We anticipate to fully realize the benefits of this outsourcing starting in 2009 with an anticipated annual savings of $10 million. We are also working to rationalize facilities costs. We have sold and leased back a portion of our headquarters facilities which we expect will generate approximately $10 million in annual pre-tax savings starting in 2008. See Note 5 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for a detailed discussion of this transaction. Additionally, with the launch of our Efficient Access Solution (see Note 5 to the Consolidated Financial Statements) we expect to lower incentive costs over time.

Matters Affecting Comparability

Mergers and Acquisitions

Our discussion of the results of operations for the years ended 2004, 2005 and 2006 will be affected by significant mergers and acquisitions that have occurred in those same years as summarized in the following table. For a more detailed discussion of our mergers and acquisitions see Note 4 to the Consolidated Financial Statements.

Year

 

 

 

 

 

acquired

 

 

 

Entity

 

Segment

 

2006

 

Zuji Holdings Limited (1)

 

Travelocity

 

 

 

TRAMS, Inc.

 

Sabre Travel Network

 

2005

 

SynXis Corporation

 

Sabre Travel Network

 

 

 

lastminute.com plc

 

Travelocity

 

2004

 

RM Rocade AB and RM Rocade Assist AB

 

Sabre Airline Solutions

 

 

 

All State Tours, Inc.

 

Travelocity

 

 

 

Travelocity Europe—Remaining 50% of the non-German operations

 

Travelocity

 

 

 

Sabre Travel Network Middle East Joint Venture—60% ownership

 

Sabre Travel Network

 


(1)            Zuji Holdings Limited was consolidated on November 7, 2005 in compliance with FIN 46R. On January 24, 2006, upon exercise of a put option, we purchased the remaining 90% of Zuji that we did not already own (see Note 4 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for further discussion).

33




Expensing of Stock-Based Awards

On January 1, 2006, we adopted SFAS 123R, using the modified prospective method, which requires that the measurement and recognition of share-based payment awards to employees and directors of the Company be made at the estimated fair value on the grant date. Stock options that had been granted but for which the requisite service period to earn the award had not been completed at January 1, 2006 are being expensed over their remaining requisite service period using the fair value calculated on their grant date. All options granted prior to January 1, 2006 utilized the Black-Scholes method of valuation. In the past, compensation expense related to our stock options was generally only included in pro forma financial statements and was not recognized in our financial statements. For the year ended December 31, 2006, we recognized $32 million in stock compensation expense before taxes, $12 million of which went to Travelocity, $17 million to Sabre Travel Network and $5 million to Sabre Airline Solutions, less a reduction in non-operating expenses of $2 million for stock compensation expense recognized prior to adoption of SFAS 123R on restricted stock grants that we believe will ultimately forfeit. We concluded that this adjustment was not material enough for treatment as a cumulative effect of an accounting change.

Changes in Estimates

Sabre Travel Network pays incentive payments to our subscribers, generally travel agents, based upon volume and rates contained within the travel agency contracts. For our larger subscribers, we have always accrued the incentive expense as these volumes represented the majority of our incentive liability. In the first quarter of 2006, we revised our estimate of the incentive liability to include expense associated with our smaller travel agency customers that were previously recorded as payments were made. The incentives from these smaller agencies were immaterial in the past; however, recent analysis of smaller travel agencies showed a pattern of growth in incentives paid. This new accrual methodology resulted in an additional $21 million in incentive expense in the first quarter of 2006. We performed a similar analysis on revenues we received from smaller travel agencies which resulted in an additional $7 million in subscriber revenues in the first quarter of 2006. The net result of these two accruals resulted in a reduction to our after tax net earnings for the three months ended March 31, 2006 of approximately $9 million or $0.07 per dilutive common share. We continue to accrue this expense and revenue and there has been no significant change since March 31, 2006.

Sabre Travel Network has a booking fee cancellation reserve that is calculated at each period end based on historical cancellation rates. In estimating the amount of future cancellations that will require us to refund a booking fee, we assume that a certain percentage of cancellations are followed immediately by a new reservation, without loss of revenue. This assumption is based on historical rates of cancellations that results in new reservations and has a significant impact on the amount reserved. In the first quarter of 2006, our estimate of the rebook rate increased. This change in the rebook rate assumption lowers the amount of reserve needed for cancelled bookings. In the first quarter of 2006, the new estimated rate, when compared to the previous rebook assumption, resulted in a $7 million decrease in the booking fee cancellation reserve. This change resulted in a $4 million increase to after tax net earnings for the three months ended March 31, 2006 or $0.03 per dilutive common share. We continue to use the new rebook rate and there has been no significant change since March 31, 2006.

34




Components of Revenues and Expenses

Revenues.   Travelocity generates revenues from commissions or transaction fees from suppliers for the purchase of travel, lifestyle products and services pursuant to reservations made through our system. Travelocity also generates net rate revenue from providing facilitation services equal to the amount paid by the customer for travel and non-travel products and services, minus Travelocity’s payment to the supplier. Additional Travelocity revenues include other fees charged to customers, advertising revenues from our websites and GDS incentives. Travelocity derives intersegment revenues from Sabre Travel Network, consisting of incentives earned for Travelocity transactions processed through the Sabre GDS, and fees paid by Sabre Travel Network and Sabre Airline Solutions for corporate trips booked through the Travelocity online booking technology. Sabre Travel Network primarily generates revenues from transaction fees paid directly to us related to a travel reservation including the following: traditional booking fees paid by travel suppliers, non-traditional transaction fees paid by travel suppliers, transaction fees paid by travel agency subscribers, and transaction fees paid by corporations related to our booking tool. Sabre Travel Network also earns revenue through equipment service charges paid by subscribers. In addition, Sabre Travel Network earns revenue through the sale of other products and services (including the Hotel SpotlightSM program, which offers premium marketing opportunities to hoteliers through the Sabre GDS, the Jurni Network consortia, as well as Nexion and SynXis® offerings to hoteliers) and the Sabre® Surround® program (which bundles the Hotel Spotlight services with other advertising products) to travel suppliers, subscribers and other customers. Earnings (or losses as the case may be) derived from interests in joint ventures and other investments are also included in revenues. Sabre Travel Network earns intersegment revenues from data processing fees and transaction fees paid by Travelocity. Sabre Airline Solutions generates revenues from the sale of airline reservations hosting services, product revenues including inventory and check-in hosting solutions, decision-support software and technology, and airline consulting services.

Cost of Revenues.   Travelocity cost of revenues consists primarily of customer service costs, technology costs, salaries, benefits and other employee expenses, data processing fees and transaction fees paid to Sabre Travel Network, credit card fees, charges related to fraudulent bookings, service compensation and depreciation and amortization charges. In addition, Travelocity cost of revenues includes recovery of certain VAT payments which are treated as a contra-expense. Sabre Travel Network cost of revenues consists primarily of incentives paid to subscribers, data processing charges resulting from the operation of the Sabre system, and salaries and other operating expenses. Sabre Travel Network also incurs intersegment expenses paid to Travelocity for incentives for Travelocity transactions processed through the Sabre GDS, as well as fees for corporate trips booked through the Travelocity online booking technology. Sabre Airline Solutions cost of revenues is comprised of labor cost incurred in the development and delivery of software and consulting services and depreciation and amortization. Sabre Airline Solutions also incurs intersegment expenses paid to Travelocity for airline trips booked through the Travelocity online booking technology. Purchased technology includes amortization of acquired software and other technology that is used to support various revenue generating activities.

Operating Expenses.   Travelocity selling, general and administrative and other operating expenses consist primarily of advertising and promotion expenses, payments made to our travel agency and distribution partners and salaries, benefits and employee related expenses for staff functions required to support the business. Sabre Travel Network selling, general and administrative expenses and other operating expenses consist primarily of salaries, benefits and employee related expenses for staff who sell our services to new customers and other staff functions required to support the business as well as bad debt expense. Sabre Airline Solutions operating expenses consist of the costs of the sales organization and the staff functions required to support the business and bad debt expense.

35




Financial Results

The following tables present operating results for the three years ended December 31, 2006, 2005 and 2004 (in thousands of dollars). The segment revenues and cost of revenues are shown including intersegment activity. We have included the elimination of intersegment activity below to agree to the results of operations presented in the Consolidated Financial Statements.

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2006

 

2005

 

2006

 

2005

 

     2006     

 

     2005     

 

2006

 

2005

 

2006

 

2005

 

2006

 

2005

 

 

 

Travelocity

 

Sabre Travel Network

 

Sabre Airline Solutions

 

Corporate

 

Eliminations

 

Total

 

Segment revenues

 

$

1,085,227

 

$

831,328

 

$

1,634,582

 

$

1,614,197

 

 

$

282,512

 

 

 

$

260,812

 

 

$

 

$

 

$

(178,524

)

$

(185,082

)

$

2,823,797

 

$

2,521,255

 

Cost of revenues

 

423,371

 

358,742

 

1,128,921

 

1,116,454

 

 

202,680

 

 

 

176,713

 

 

2,242

 

1,573

 

(178,524

)

(185,082

)

1,578,690

 

1,468,400

 

Amortization of purchased technology

 

29,418

 

13,593

 

3,895

 

4,835

 

 

683

 

 

 

544

 

 

 

 

 

 

33,996

 

18,972

 

Gross profit

 

632,438

 

458,993

 

501,766

 

492,908

 

 

79,149

 

 

 

83,555

 

 

(2,242

)

(1,573

)

 

 

1,211,111

 

1,033,883

 

Selling, general & administrative

 

600,607

 

453,126

 

243,661

 

251,598

 

 

40,187

 

 

 

42,330

 

 

3,644

 

(3,299

)

 

 

888,099

 

743,755

 

Amortization of intangible assets

 

27,047

 

16,136

 

9,424

 

10,825

 

 

1,393

 

 

 

2,294

 

 

 

 

 

 

37,864

 

29,255

 

Operating income (loss)

 

$

4,784

 

$

(10,269

)

$

248,681

 

$

230,485

 

 

$

37,569

 

 

 

$

38,931

 

 

$

(5,886

)

$

1,726

 

$

 

$

 

$

285,148

 

$

260,873

 

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2005

 

2004

 

2005

 

2004

 

    2005    

 

     2004    

 

2005

 

2004

 

2005

 

2004

 

2005

 

2004

 

 

 

Travelocity

 

Sabre Travel Network

 

Sabre Airline Solutions

 

Corporate

 

Eliminations

 

Total

 

Segment revenues

 

$

831,328

 

$

502,549

 

$

1,614,197

 

$

1,552,832

 

 

$

260,812

 

 

 

$

243,470

 

 

$

 

$

 

$

(185,082

)

$

(167,880

)

$

2,521,255

 

$

2,130,971

 

Cost of revenues

 

358,742

 

224,386

 

1,116,454

 

1,005,812

 

 

176,713

 

 

 

176,902

 

 

1,573

 

960

 

(185,082

)

(167,880

)

1,468,400

 

1,240,180

 

Amortization of purchased technology

 

13,593

 

21,077

 

4,835

 

9,325

 

 

544

 

 

 

1,651

 

 

 

 

 

 

18,972

 

32,053

 

Gross profit

 

458,993

 

257,086

 

492,908

 

537,695

 

 

83,555

 

 

 

64,917

 

 

(1,573

)

(960

)

 

 

1,033,883

 

858,738

 

Selling, general & administrative

 

453,126

 

273,189

 

251,598

 

257,516

 

 

42,330

 

 

 

50,026

 

 

(3,299

)

4,451

 

 

 

743,755

 

585,182

 

Amortization of intangible assets

 

16,136

 

4,395

 

10,825

 

9,282

 

 

2,294

 

 

 

1,149

 

 

 

 

 

 

29,255

 

14,826

 

Operating income (loss)

 

$

(10,269

)

$

(20,498

)

$

230,485

 

$

270,897

 

 

$

38,931

 

 

 

$

13,742

 

 

$

1,726

 

$

(5,411

)

$

 

$

 

$

260,873

 

$

258,730

 

 

Results of Operations 2004-2006

Management’s discussion and analysis of revenues, cost of revenues, selling, general and administrative expenses, amortization of intangible assets and operating income by business segment are based upon segment results including intersegment revenues and cost of revenues of approximately $179 million, $185 million and $168 million for the years ended December 31, 2006, 2005 and 2004, respectively. See Components of Revenues and Expenses above.

Revenues.   The compounded annual growth rate of revenues by segment for the three years ended December 31, 2006 was growth of 40.1% for Travelocity, growth of 1.6% for Sabre Travel Network, and growth of 6.7% for Sabre Airline Solutions. Each of our business segments have benefited from generally good economic conditions, stronger demand for travel products and acquisitions. However, each of our business segments have been negatively impacted by macroeconomic factors during this period including the war and continued conflict in Iraq, ongoing travel security concerns, and fear of potential terrorist attacks, particularly in Europe. These negative impacts to the general economy and the travel industry impacted each of our business segments.

For the three years ended December 31, 2006, Travelocity has experienced 40.1% compounded annual growth in revenues due to our continued growth in North America and expansion into the European market with the acquisitions of lastminute.com and Travelocity Europe which contributed to the growth in bookings made through our websites and contact centers, and increased yields and transaction volumes stimulated by increased net rate activity and improved packaging of offerings. Although Travelocity was negatively affected by the terrorist attacks and the negative factors noted above and by declining internet advertising revenue, the growth in the internet travel business combined with the Travelocity net rate model and packaging initiatives and market expansion into Europe offset the negative impacts.

36




Sabre Travel Network has performed well in an industry faced with economic downturn, travel security concerns, channel shift and continued pressures on the GDS booking fee. Sabre Travel Network annual transactions and transaction revenue have remained relatively stable since 2003 with a compounded 4.3% increase in annual transactions processed through the Sabre system. Sabre Travel Network has been able to achieve this in part due to long-term content agreements with key suppliers in exchange for discounted booking fees. We believe that this has contributed in reducing the rate at which transactions leave the GDS channel for supplier-controlled channels, including individual airline websites and call centers, and other third-party controlled distribution points.

Sabre Airline Solutions has experienced 6.7% compounded annual growth in revenues for the three years ended December 31, 2006. Although Sabre Airline Solutions and its customers were negatively affected by the terrorist attacks and the negative factors noted above, we were able to grow revenues in each of the past several years. This increase in revenues is the result of increased sales of decision support products and services, consulting and web-enabled solutions that offer cost savings and more efficient operations to our customers. Additionally, this increase was driven by growth in airline reservation hosting revenues.

Expenses.   Our primary operating expenses consist of salaries, benefits, other employee-related costs, data processing costs, communication costs, advertising and subscriber incentives, representing approximately 74.7%, 75.6% and 78.7% of total operating expenses in 2006, 2005 and 2004, respectively. We have seen a decline in our expenses as a percent of revenue as a result of cost reduction initiatives across our organization. However, since 2004, we have realized a compounded increase in our operating expenses of approximately 10.6% due primarily to the acquisition of lastminute.com in July of 2005.

Travelocity cost of revenues and selling, general and administrative expenses have increased due to growth in the business. Significant acquisitions during this period, including lastminute.com in 2005 and Travelocity Europe in 2004, have contributed to the growth in expenses. We increased our expenditures for advertising in order to drive additional travelers to Travelocity’s websites, and expenses have increased as a result of increases in transaction volumes for our growing net rate offerings. Our technology infrastructure related expenses have also increased in order to support our growth and new offerings.

Sabre Travel Network hardware and communications costs have decreased as a result of the migration to lower cost solutions and the adoption of third-party solutions by subscribers. These decreases were partially offset by increases in Sabre Travel Network technology spending due to the phased implementation and continuing expansion of new functionality that requires running legacy systems as well as the new technology, and increases in Sabre Travel Network subscriber incentives. Other increases in expenses have resulted from investments in various new businesses such as our SynXis hotel reservations system.

Sabre Airline Solutions operating expenses have generally grown at a rate commensurate with the growth in revenues during the 2004 to 2006 period. These expenses have been offset by several cost reduction initiatives that have resulted in reduced headcount-related expenses as well as improvements in our receivable collection activities, particularly in 2005.

Results of Operations: 2006 Compared to 2005

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2006

 

2005

 

change

 

% change

 

2006

 

2005

 

2006

 

2005

 

change

 

% change

 

 

 

Total revenues before eliminations

 

Eliminations

 

Total consolidated revenues

 

 

 

(thousands)

 

 

 

(thousands)

 

(thousands)

 

 

 

Revenues

 

$

3,002,321

 

$

2,706,337

 

$

295,984

 

 

10.9

%

 

$

(178,524

)

$

(185,082

)

$

2,823,797

 

$

2,521,255

 

$

302,542

 

 

12.0

%

 

Total cost of revenues

 

1,791,210

 

1,672,454

 

118,756

 

 

7.1

%

 

(178,524

)

(185,082

)

1,612,686

 

1,487,372

 

125,314

 

 

8.4

%

 

 

37




Total revenues for the year ended December 31, 2006 after intercompany eliminations increased approximately $303 million, or 12%, compared to the year ended December 31, 2005, from $2,521 million to $2,824 million. Cost of revenues after intercompany eliminations for the year ended December 31, 2006 increased approximately $125 million, or 8.4%, compared to the year ended December 31, 2005, from $1,487 million to $1,612 million.

Management’s discussion and analysis of revenues, cost of revenues, selling, general and administrative expenses, amortization of intangible assets and operating income by business segment are based upon segment results including intersegment revenues and cost of revenues of approximately $179 million and $185 million for the years ended December 31, 2006 and 2005, respectively. See Components of Revenues and Expenses above.

Total revenues (including intersegment revenues) for the year ended December 31, 2006 increased approximately $296 million, or 10.9%, as compared to the year ended December 31, 2005, from $2,706 million to $3,002 million.

Total cost of revenues (including intersegment cost of revenues) for the year ended December 31, 2006 increased $119 million, or 7.1%, as compared to the year ended December 31, 2005, from $1,672 million to $1,791 million.

Travelocity

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2006

 

2005

 

change

 

% change

 

 

 

(thousands)

 

 

 

Segment revenues

 

$

1,085,227

 

$

831,328

 

$

253,899

 

 

30.5

%

 

Cost of revenues

 

423,371

 

358,742

 

64,629

 

 

18.0

%

 

Amortization of purchased technology

 

29,418

 

13,593

 

15,825

 

 

116.4

%

 

Gross profit

 

632,438

 

458,993

 

173,445

 

 

37.8

%

 

Selling, general & administrative

 

600,607

 

453,126

 

147,481

 

 

32.5

%

 

Amortization of intangible assets

 

27,047

 

16,136

 

10,911

 

 

67.6

%

 

Operating income (loss)

 

$

4,784

 

$

(10,269

)

$

15,053

 

 

146.6

%

 

 

Revenues

In July of 2005, we acquired United Kingdom-based lastminute.com. The results of lastminute.com are included in our financial results from the date of the acquisition on July 20, 2005.

The $254 million increase in revenue is comprised of an increase in transaction revenue of $224 million and an increase in non-transaction revenue of $30 million.

Transaction revenue, including lastminute.com, increased $224 million, or 31%, primarily driven by a $198 million increase in non-air transaction revenue (including revenue resulting from sales of package offerings that include air travel as a component) and a $26 million increase in stand-alone air transaction revenue.

The $198 million increase in non-air transaction revenue consisted primarily of the following:

·         A $41 million increase related to North America (including Zuji) driven primarily by a $30 million increase in stand-alone hotel revenue, resulting from higher revenue per transaction due to merchant mix. In addition, car revenue increased $4 million driven by both transaction volume and average revenue per transaction, and cruise revenue increased $1 million. These increases were offset by a $2 million decrease in packaging revenue due to reduced availability of discounted air fares that are used in package offerings. All other North American non-air transaction revenue increased $2 million. Non-air transaction revenue associated with the Zuji acquisition increased $6 million.

38




·         A $157 million increase in Europe driven primarily by the acquisition of lastminute.com in July 2005 where 2006 includes a full year of operating results. The impact of the acquisition resulted in growth of $151 million in transaction revenue. Revenue increased a further $12 million due to the weakening dollar and $3 million due to increasing booking volumes across lastminute.com businesses. These increases were offset by a decline of $9 million due to the disposal of certain, primarily offline-focused, non-core businesses in the United Kingdom and France in 2006. These businesses generated $9 million in revenue for the third and fourth quarters of 2005, but had been disposed of by the third quarter of 2006.

The $26 million increase in stand-alone air transaction revenue was primarily due to the following:

·         In North America, volume growth in stand-alone air was offset by a decline in the average revenue per transaction resulting in a decline of $1 million. The reduced revenue per transaction was due to our renegotiated air deals and lower incentives from our Efficient Access Solution (EAS) agreement with Travel Network. An additional $8 million increase resulted from the Zuji acquisition.

·         A $19 million increase in Europe driven primarily by the acquisition of lastminute.com.

Non-transaction revenue which primarily consists of advertising revenue, corporate revenue, paper ticket fees and services, change and re-issue fees, increased $30 million, or 28%, consisting primarily of the following:

·         An $11 million increase related to North America (including Zuji) driven primarily by a $6 million increase in corporate revenue, the fees paid by Sabre Travel Network and Sabre Airline Solutions to Travelocity for trips booked through the Travelocity online booking technology, due to higher volume and the termination settlement of a supplier website, and a $5 million improvement in fees associated with customer service orders and paper tickets.

·         A $19 million increase in Europe due primarily to the acquisition of lastminute.com which gave rise to an increase year over year of $18 million. The remainder represents growth in the fourth quarter.

Cost of Revenues

The $65 million increase in cost of revenues includes a $2 million decrease in North America (including Zuji), offset by a $67 million increase in Europe.

·         The North America decline of $2 million is a result of improvements in credit card fraud performance as well as declines in customer service costs. These two expenses decreased in total by $15 million this year. Offsetting these improvements, technology related expenses, including resolution of a service level agreement shortfall in the third quarter of 2006, increased $6 million. Bank service charges increased $5 million as a result of higher merchant volumes. Stock-based compensation expense for North America employees increased $4 million due to the adoption of SFAS 123R in the first quarter of 2006 (see Matters Affecting Comparability: Expensing of Stock Options). All other North America costs of revenue decreased $2 million.

·         Europe cost of revenues increased $67 million, of which $74 million was driven by the timing of the lastminute.com acquisition. Adjusting for this, cost of revenues declined $7 million year over year. This decline is partially due to the Travelocity Europe businesses exited in 2006 which incurred $4 million of expense in 2005, and a settlement of a dispute with a vendor which resulted in a $4 million expense in 2005. Other cost controlling efforts resulted in a further decline of $4 million during 2006. These declines were offset by currency movement resulting in $5 million incremental expense this year.

39




Selling, General and Administrative Expenses

The $147 million increase in selling, general and administrative expenses includes increases in North America totaling $16 million, an increase of $25 million resulting from the Zuji acquisition, and an increase of $106 million in Europe.

·         In North America, advertising and marketing related expenses, including staff costs, increased $5 million, and increased legal fees totaled $4 million. In addition, Travelocity’s share of corporate staff group and facility costs increased due to Travelocity’s increased allocation of corporate resources, resulting in $16 million of additional expense. These increases were partially offset by North America payments to distribution partners and affiliates which decreased by $10 million as a result of renegotiation of certain distribution contracts. Other selling, general and administrative expenses increased $1 million.

·         Europe selling, general and administrative expenses increased $106 million, of which $109 million was driven by the timing of the lastminute.com acquisition. Offsetting this, selling, general and administrative expenses decreased by $3 million due to a reduction in advertising and promotional expenses of $5 million. This reduction is due to an effort to reduce selling expenses as a percent of revenue. In addition, expenses declined by $6 million related to Travelocity Europe’s disposal of certain, primarily offline-focused businesses in the United Kingdom and France in 2006. This decrease was offset by an $8 million increase in our costs due to the weakening dollar.

Amortization of Intangible Assets (Including Amortization of Purchased Technology)

Amortization of intangible assets increased $27 million due to amortization from intangible assets acquired in the lastminute.com acquisition.

Operating Income

Operating income increased $15 million primarily due to a $20 million improvement in North America, including Zuji, driven by increased revenues and reductions in fraud and customer service costs. Operating income for Europe declined $5 million driven by an increase in amortization expense of $27 million from the acquisition of lastminute.com offset by an improvement in operating income of $22 million due to improved margins from expense controls.

Sabre Travel Network

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2006

 

2005

 

change

 

% change

 

 

 

(thousands)

 

 

 

Segment revenues

 

$

1,634,582

 

$

1,614,197

 

$

20,385

 

 

1.3

%

 

Cost of revenues

 

1,128,921

 

1,116,454

 

12,467

 

 

1.1

%

 

Amortization of purchased technology

 

3,895

 

4,835

 

(940

)

 

(19.4

)%

 

Gross profit

 

501,766

 

492,908

 

8,858

 

 

1.8

%

 

Selling, general & administrative

 

243,661

 

251,598

 

(7,937

)

 

(3.2

)%

 

Amortization of intangible assets

 

9,424

 

10,825

 

(1,401

)

 

(12.9

)%

 

Operating income

 

$

248,681

 

$

230,485

 

$

18,196

 

 

7.9

%

 

 

40




Revenues

The $20 million increase in revenues is due to the following:

·         Transaction revenue (see Components of Revenues and Expenses) decreased by $5 million, or 0.3%. This $5 million decrease includes a $51 million decrease driven by a lower average rate per transaction due to growth in lower-priced, non-traditional transactions and new lower-priced agreements with the major US carriers. This $51 million rate decrease was offset by a $40 million increase due to higher transaction volumes primarily from online agencies and a $7 million increase due to a change in the cancellation rebook rate assumption in our air booking fee cancellation reserve (see Matters Affecting Comparability: Changes in Estimates). Total transactions were 357 million for the twelve months ended December 31, 2006, an increase of 4.2% from the twelve months ended December 31, 2005.

·         Subscriber revenue increased by $4 million driven by a $9 million increase from growth in our mid and back-office solutions for agencies, and a $5 million decline in other subscriber revenue partially due to the continuing trend of subscribers moving to customer-owned equipment.

·         Other revenue increased by $21 million driven by a $17 million increase from GDS hotel products including Hotel Spotlight, PromoSpots, Sabre Surround and the SynXis hotel reservation system. The increase in GDS hotel products is mainly driven by strong organic growth from each product as well as the anniversary effect related to Sabre Surround and the SynXis hotel reservation system, which both started generating revenue in 2005. The remaining increase is driven by a $7 million increase in revenue from our Asian joint venture due to improved performance over prior year and a $3 million decline in other revenue.

Cost of Revenues

The increase in cost of revenues of $12 million includes a $14 million decrease in subscriber support costs and a $26 million increase in other costs.

The $14 million decrease in subscriber support costs includes a decline of $35 million due to the continuing trend of subscribers moving to customer-owned equipment resulting in a decrease of $28 million and a year over year decline in incentive expense of $7 million. The decline in incentive expense is due to growth in lower-priced, non-traditional transactions and the impact of our Efficient Access Solution (EAS) program. Additionally, there is a one-time $21 million increase in subscriber incentives due to a change in accounting estimate for smaller travel agencies which were previously accounted for as they were paid (see Matters Affecting Comparability: Changes in Estimates).

The $26 million increase in other costs includes a $10 million increase in depreciation expense related to the migration of our technology systems onto open-platforms and an $8 million increase in services purchased costs related to a higher volume of GetThere trips and Hotel Spotlight, PromoSpots, and Sabre Surround revenue growth. Additionally, headcount related costs increased $4 million primarily driven by an increase in stock-based compensation expense due to the adoption of SFAS 123R in the first quarter of 2006 (see Matters Affecting Comparability: Expensing of Stock Options) and miscellaneous cost of revenues increased by $4 million.

Selling, General and Administrative Expenses

Selling, general and administrative expenses decreased $8 million. A $10 million reduction in marketing expenses related to the signing of new airline contracts was almost entirely offset by an increase in stock based compensation expense due to the adoption of SFAS 123R in the first quarter of 2006.  Therefore, the year over year decline in selling, general and administrative expenses is attributable to changes in overhead expenses due to a shift in corporate services from Sabre Travel Network to Travelocity as that business grows and consumes more of such services.

41




Amortization of Intangible Assets (including Amortization of Purchased Technology)

The decrease in amortization of intangible assets is due to intangible assets that have been fully amortized.

Operating Income

The growth in operating income is primarily driven by growth in transaction volumes, partially offset by a decline in the average rate per transaction. Additionally, a decline in subscriber support costs and strong year over year growth in our hotel products contributed to earnings growth.

Sabre Airline Solutions

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2006

 

2005

 

change

 

% change

 

 

 

 

 

(thousands)

 

 

 

 

 

Segment revenues

 

$

282,512

 

 

$

260,812

 

 

$

21,700

 

 

8.3

%

 

Cost of revenues

 

202,680

 

 

176,713

 

 

25,967

 

 

14.7

%

 

Amortization of purchased technology

 

683

 

 

544

 

 

139

 

 

25.6

%

 

Gross profit

 

79,149

 

 

83,555

 

 

(4,406

)

 

(5.3

)%

 

Selling, general & administrative

 

40,187

 

 

42,330

 

 

(2,143

)

 

(5.1

)%

 

Amortization of intangible assets

 

1,393

 

 

2,294

 

 

(901

)

 

(39.3

)%

 

Operating income

 

$

37,569

 

 

$

38,931

 

 

$

(1,362

)

 

(3.5

)%

 

 

Revenues

The $22 million increase in revenues was driven primarily by a $20 million increase in airline reservations hosting revenue. This was the result of the full year impact of customers added in 2005, new customers added in 2006, and growth from our existing customer base. Included in the $20 million increase from airline reservations hosting revenue is a $4 million termination fee from a customer contract. Additionally, consulting revenues increased $3 million due to certain contractual objectives being met and an increase in customer engagements, and product revenue increased $2 million as a result of higher demand for our products. This growth was offset by a $3 million decline in revenue associated with expired royalties.

Cost of Revenues

The $26 million increase in cost of revenues is due to a $10 million increase in employee related costs, which includes $4 million associated with increased headcount related to global expansion and increased demand for our products, a $2 million increase in FAS 123R related expenses, a $2 million increase in variable compensation due to more favorable performance, and a $1 million increase related to severance expense. In addition, data processing expenses increased by $8 million driven by higher transaction volume and a $2 million payment associated with a terminated customer contract. Development expenses increased $6 million due to an increase of $3 million in ongoing product development costs and $3 million infrastructure related projects costs. Amortization of internally developed software increased $1 million, and other expenses increased by $1 million.

Amortization of Intangible Assets (Including Amortization of Purchased Technology)

The decrease in amortization of intangible assets is due to intangible assets that fully amortized in 2006.

Operating Income

The decrease in operating income was driven primarily by an increase in cost of revenues expenses associated with employee-related costs and other costs to support growth in transaction volumes.

42




Non-Operating Items

The following section describes our results of operations on a consolidated basis for non-operating income and expense items:

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

 

2006

 

2005

 

change

 

% change

 

 

 

 

 

 

(thousands)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Operating income

 

$

285,148

 

 

$

260,873

 

 

$

24,275

 

9.3

%

 

Interest income

 

16,380

 

 

22,411

 

 

(6,031

)

(26.9

)%

 

Interest expense

 

(79,122

)

 

(53,075

)

 

(26,047

)

(49.1

)%

 

Gain on sale of investments

 

 

 

27,132

 

 

(27,132

)

(100.0

)%

 

Loss on derivative instruments

 

 

 

(8,248

)

 

8,248

 

100.0

%

 

Other, net

 

(2,149

)

 

(4,378

)

 

2,229

 

50.9

%

 

Income before provision for income taxes

 

220,257

 

 

244,715

 

 

(24,458

)

(10.0

)%

 

Less: Provision for income taxes

 

64,619

 

 

72,563

 

 

(7,944

)

(10.9

)%

 

Net Earnings

 

$

155,638

 

 

$

172,152

 

 

$

(16,514

)

(9.6

)%

 

 

Interest Income

The $6 million decrease in interest income is due to the decrease in our marketable securities balances from 2005 to 2006 related primarily to the lastminute.com acquisition in July 2005.

Interest Expense

The increase in interest expense is attributable to higher average debt outstanding during 2006, driven by the timing of the acquisition of lastminute.com and increased interest rates due to the interest rate swaps issued in connection with our Notes issued in August 2001. Our average debt outstanding, including our capital lease obligation, was approximately $1 billion  for the year ended December 31, 2006 and approximately $900 million for the year ended December 31, 2005. See Note 7 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for additional information.

Gain on Sale of Investments

For the year ended December 31, 2006, there were no gains from the sale of investments. For the year ended December 31, 2005, we recorded a gain of $21 million from the sale of our investment in Karavel SA, a French tour operator. Additionally, we recognized a $7 million gain on the sale of our remaining interest in the German operations of Travelocity Europe. These gains were offset by a $1 million loss on the conversion of a note receivable and warrants from TRX.

Loss on Derivative Instruments

For the year ended December 31, 2006, there were no losses on derivative instruments. In the second quarter of 2005, we recorded a loss of $10 million on the option we purchased in May 2005 to acquire GBP and EUR at a fixed rate at or near the closing of the acquisition on lastminute.com. This $10 million loss was offset by a $2 million gain on forward contracts we entered into to purchase GBP 578 million and EUR 115 million to lock in the U.S. Dollar price of the acquisition of lastminute.com. In the third quarter of 2005, these forward contracts matured resulting in a gain of $2 million.

43




Other, net

Other, net expenses decreased approximately $2 million. In 2006, we recorded $10 million in losses, before tax effect, on the sale of three businesses that were a part of our Travelocity Europe and lastminute.com operations (see Note 5 to the Consolidated Financial Statements). Additionally, minority interest expense increased $5 million in 2006 due primarily to stronger performance of our Sabre Pacific joint venture and our acquisition in January 2006 of the remaining 90% of Zuji Holdings Limited that we did not already own. Offsetting these increases to expense in 2006 was a $2 million adjustment for forfeitures related to our Restricted Stock Incentive Plan in conjunction with the adoption of SFAS 123R (see Note 12 to our Consolidated Financial Statements). Additionally, in 2005 we recorded a $15 million loss resulting from a litigation settlement with Northwest Airlines, for which we had no comparable loss in 2006.

Income Taxes

The decrease in the provision for income taxes is primarily driven by the $24 million decrease in income before taxes. See Note 10 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for additional information regarding income taxes.

Net Earnings

Although all of our segments experienced positive revenue growth, net earnings decreased by $17 million during the year ended December 31, 2006 as compared to the year ended December 31, 2005. The primary reason for this decline is a $21 million gain in the first quarter of 2005 from the sale of our investment in Karavel SA for which we had no equivalent gain in 2006. Other factors adversely affecting our operations for the year ended December 31, 2006 were an increase in amortization expense due to the acquisition of lastminute.com and headcount-related costs (including the impact of expensing stock options starting on January 1, 2006). Finally, we incurred higher interest expense in 2006 due primarily to the higher debt levels incurred to finance the lastminute.com purchase.

Results of Operations: 2005 Compared to 2004

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2005

 

2004

 

change

 

% change

 

2005

 

2004

 

2005

 

2004

 

change

 

% change

 

 

 

Total revenues before eliminations

 

Eliminations

 

Total consolidated revenues

 

 

 

 

 

(thousands)

 

 

 

 

 

(thousands)

 

 

 

(thousands)

 

 

 

 

 

Revenues

 

$

2,706,337

 

 

$

2,298,851

 

 

$

407,486

 

 

17.7

%

 

$

(185,082

)

$

(167,880

)

$

2,521,255

 

 

$

2,130,971

 

 

$

390,284

 

 

18.3

%

 

Total cost of revenues

 

1,672,454

 

 

1,440,113

 

 

232,341

 

 

16.1

%

 

(185,082

)

(167,880

)

1,487,372

 

 

1,272,233

 

 

215,139

 

 

16.9

%

 

 

Total revenues for the year ended December 31, 2005 increased approximately $390 million, or 18.3%, compared to the year ended December 31, 2004, from $2,131 million to $2,521 million. Cost of revenues for the year ended December 31, 2005 increased approximately $215 million, or 16.9%, compared to the year ended December 31, 2004, from $1,272 million to $1,487 million. These reported revenues and expenses are net of intersegment revenues and expenses which were eliminated in consolidation.

44




Management’s discussion and analysis of revenues and cost of revenues by business segment are based upon segment results including intersegment revenues and cost of revenues of approximately $185 million and $168 million for the years ended December 31, 2005 and 2004, respectively. We account for significant intersegment transactions as if the transactions were to third parties, that is, at estimated current market prices. The majority of the intersegment revenues and cost of revenues are between Travelocity and Sabre Travel Network, consisting mainly of incentives paid to Travelocity for Travelocity transactions processed through the Sabre GDS, data processing fees and transaction fees paid by Travelocity to Sabre Travel Network (including for transactions processed through the Sabre GDS), and fees paid by Sabre Travel Network to Travelocity for corporate trips booked through the Travelocity online booking technology. In addition, Sabre Airline Solutions pays fees to Travelocity for airline trips booked through the Travelocity online booking technology. All intersegment revenues and corresponding cost of revenues have been eliminated in consolidation.

Total revenues (including intersegment revenues) for the year ended December 31, 2005 increased approximately $407 million, or 17.7%, as compared to the year ended December 31, 2004, from $2,299 million to $2,706 million.

Total cost of revenues (including intersegment cost of revenues) for the year ended December 31, 2005 increased $232 million, or 16.1%, as compared to the year ended December 31, 2004, from $1,440 million to $1,672 million.

Travelocity

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2005

 

2004

 

change

 

% change

 

 

 

 

 

(thousands)

 

 

 

 

 

Segment revenues

 

$

831,328

 

 

$

502,549

 

 

$

328,779

 

 

65.4

%

 

Cost of revenues

 

358,742

 

 

224,386

 

 

134,356

 

 

59.9

%

 

Amortization of purchased technology

 

13,593

 

 

21,077

 

 

(7,484

)

 

(35.5

)%

 

Gross profit

 

458,993

 

 

257,086

 

 

201,907

 

 

78.5

%

 

Selling, general & administrative

 

453,126

 

 

273,189

 

 

179,937

 

 

65.9

%

 

Amortization of intangible assets

 

16,136

 

 

4,395

 

 

11,741

 

 

267.1

%

 

Operating loss

 

$

(10,269

)

 

$

(20,498

)

 

$

10,229

 

 

49.9

%

 

 

The following are important to understanding the comparability of the results of operations between 2005 and 2004 for our Travelocity segment:

·         In October of 2004, we acquired sole control of the non-German operations of Travelocity Europe, purchasing 50% of these entities. The remaining 50% that we already owned indirectly through the Travelocity Europe joint venture was distributed to us by the joint venture so that we now directly own 100% of these entities. Since this acquisition, we have been consolidating the results of Travelocity Europe, whereas prior to October 2004, 50% of these results were recorded as a reduction to other revenues as equity losses.

·         The results of lastminute.com are included in our financial results from the date of the acquisition on July 20, 2005.

·         North America, when referred to below, represents all operations in North America and also includes our Zuji joint venture in Asia.

45




Revenues

Transaction revenue, including Travelocity Europe in 2005 and lastminute.com since the acquisition, increased $296 million, or 69.1%, primarily driven by a $253 million increase in non-air transaction revenue (including revenue resulting from sales of package offerings that include air travel as a component) and a $43 million increase in stand-alone air transaction revenue.

The $253 million increase in non-air transaction revenue consisted primarily of the following:

·         $158 million related to the acquisitions of Travelocity Europe and lastminute.com.

·         $95 million related to North America driven primarily by a $50 million increase in packaged trip revenue, a $36 million increase in stand-alone hotel revenue, both of which were driven by higher transaction volumes, and a $7 million increase in Showtickets.com revenue which we only owned for part of 2004. All other North American non-air transaction revenue increased $2 million.

The $43 million increase in stand-alone air transaction revenue was primarily due to a $29 million increase resulting from the acquisitions of lastminute.com and Travelocity Europe. North American stand-alone air transaction revenue increased by $14 million driven by strong volume growth.

Non-transaction revenue increased $33 million, or 44.5%, consisting primarily of the following:

·         $22 million related to the acquisitions of Travelocity Europe and lastminute.com which includes the $13 million favorable impact of reduced joint venture equity method losses that resulted from the Travelocity Europe acquisition, and $9 million of advertising revenue.

·         $11 million related to North America driven primarily by corporate revenue of $10 million (fees paid by Sabre Travel Network and Sabre Airline Solutions to Travelocity for trips booked through the Travelocity online booking technology) and an increase in incentive payments from our credit card processing vendor related to volume growth in our net rate hotel product offset by a decline in advertising revenue.

Cost of Revenues

The increase in cost of revenues includes $84 million from the acquisitions of lastminute.com, Travelocity Europe, Showtickets.com and the consolidation of Zuji, which we either did not own or consolidate in 2004 (lastminute.com and Zuji) or we owned for only part of 2004 (Travelocity Europe and Showtickets.com). In addition, $45 million of the increase is associated with the volume growth of our published, net rate hotel and packaged trip programs, as explained above in transaction revenue. The $45 million increase includes a $28 million increase in expenses associated with a rate increase for net rate credit card transactions and an increase in service compensation and a $17 million increase in customer service costs. The remaining $5 million increase in cost of revenues is primarily due to a software write-off associated with upgrading to a new platform at Travelocity Business.

Selling, General and Administrative Expenses

The increase in selling, general and administrative expenses includes $143 million from lastminute.com, Travelocity Europe, Showtickets.com and Zuji and $24 million due to increased advertising and customer acquisition costs to drive additional travelers to our North American websites. Headcount-related expenses increased by $7 million driven by growth in our North American business. Other selling, general and administrative expenses increased $6 million.

Amortization of Intangible Assets (Including Amortization of Purchased Technology)

Amortization of intangible assets increased $4 million in total due to the amortization of intangibles related to the acquisition of lastminute.com partially offset by other intangible assets becoming fully amortized in 2004.

46




Operating Loss

Operating loss decreased due to strong revenue growth in North America, which offset the incremental losses resulting from our acquisition of lastminute.com and Travelocity Europe.

Sabre Travel Network

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2005

 

2004

 

change

 

% change

 

 

 

 

 

(thousands)

 

 

 

 

 

Segment revenues

 

$

1,614,197

 

$

1,552,832

 

$

61,365

 

 

4.0

%

 

Cost of revenues

 

1,116,454

 

1,005,812

 

110,642

 

 

11.0

%

 

Amortization of purchased technology

 

4,835

 

9,325

 

(4,490

)

 

(48.2

)%

 

Gross profit

 

492,908

 

537,695

 

(44,787

)

 

(8.3

)%

 

Selling, general & administrative

 

251,598

 

257,516

 

(5,918

)

 

(2.3

)%

 

Amortization of intangible assets

 

10,825

 

9,282

 

1,543

 

 

16.6

%

 

Operating income

 

$

230,485

 

$

270,897

 

$

(40,412

)

 

(14.9

)%

 

 

Revenues

The increase in revenues is due to the following:

·         Transaction revenue increased by $46 million or 3.5%. The increase includes a $49 million increase resulting from higher transaction volumes and a $3 million decrease driven by a lower average rate per transaction, due to growth in lower-priced, non-traditional transactions. Total transactions were 343 million for the year ended December 31, 2005, an increase of 3.7% from 330 million transactions in 2004.

·         Subscriber revenue decreased by $18 million, reflecting the trend towards the adoption of third-party equipment.

·         Other revenues increased by $33 million compared to 2004, driven primarily by a $20 million increase in SynXis hotel reservations revenue (SynXis was acquired in 2005) and $7 million increase in equity income and transaction processing revenue from our joint ventures. In addition, other revenue increased approximately $6 million due to the Hotel Spotlight  program and introduction of our Sabre Surround program.

Cost of Revenues

The increase in cost of revenues for the twelve months ended December 31, 2005, as compared to the twelve months ended December 31, 2004, includes increases in technology related spending of $26 million as a result of the expiration of contractual credits of $14 million, and $12 million as a result of increased transaction volume and the continued implementation of our open system pricing and shopping engine. Subscriber support costs increased $38 million, driven almost entirely by growth in subscriber incentives as a result of the year over year growth in transaction volume and a higher average incentive rate per transaction compared to the prior year. Other cost of revenue increases include $29 million related to continued investment in new businesses and new business models such as SynXis, Jurni Network and Hotel Spotlight, $8 million for fulfillment costs for GetThere trips as a result of year over year volume growth, $4 million due to severance related primarily to our second quarter reorganization of our software development group, $3 million due to depreciation and amortization and $3 million of other expenses.

47




Selling, General and Administrative Expenses

The decrease in selling, general and administrative expenses for the twelve months ended December 31, 2005, as compared to the twelve months ended December 31, 2004, was primarily driven by a $10 million reduction in non-income tax accruals due to events occurring that decreased our potential liabilities for taxes and associated interest. This decrease was offset by an increase in legal and other professional fees of $2 million due to an effort to settle litigation and an increase in other expenses of $2 million.

Amortization of Intangible Assets (Including Amortization of Purchased Technology)

Amortization of intangible assets decreased by $3 million due to intangibles that fully amortized in 2005 offset partially by increased amortization expense from newly acquired entities.

Operating Income

The decline in operating income was largely the result of increased technology and incentive expenses and continued investments in new businesses and new business models that exceeded our revenue growth.

Sabre Airline Solutions

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2005

 

2004

 

change

 

% change

 

 

 

 

 

(thousands)

 

 

 

 

 

Segment revenues

 

$

260,812

 

 

$

243,470

 

 

$

17,342

 

 

7.1

%

 

Cost of revenues

 

176,713

 

 

176,902

 

 

(189

)

 

(0.1