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Priceline ready to name its price for Chicago’s Rocketmiles: report

Priceline wants to add Rocketmiles, a 2-year-old hotel booking company, to its growing online travel empire.

The online travel giant plans to buy Rocketmiles for about $20 million, according to a report in the The Wall Street Journal.

The possibility of a Priceline-Rocketmiles deal emerges just a week after Expedia announced it is buying Chicago-based Orbitz for $1.3 billion to extend its reach and keep pace in the fiercely competitive travel-booking industry.

Rocketmiles awards airline miles in exchange for hotel bookings, which could entice customers to book rooms through Priceline’s network. The Chicago-based company generally targets business travelers and other frequent fliers and has partnered with more than a dozen airlines, including American, Southwest and United. Hotels use Rocketmiles to fill unsold rooms at a discount without having to reduce all room rates.

Rocketmiles has raised about $8.5 million from investors to fund expansion.

Priceline executives on Thursday refused to comment about Rocketmiles. Priceline did report better-than-expected earnings of $451.8 million on revenue of $1.84 billion in the fourth quarter.

Priceline was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500, with its share price jumping $95.06, or 8.5 percent, to $1,218.

But the company’s earnings forecast for the first quarter was below analysts’ estimates. Priceline predicted revenue would rise between 4 percent and 11 percent from a year earlier and profit would be $7.20 to $7.75 a share, Bloomberg reported. Analysts predicted that sales would rise 13 percent to $1.86 billion, with profit of $8.46 a share.

Priceline also said it would buy back $3 billion in shares.

Contributing: The Associated Press