WXS CEO notes strength in online travel biz

You may have seen Wright Express’ strong earnings release this morning, which featured year-over-year profits going from $12.1M a year ago to $23.2M in the first quarter of 2012.

Mike Dubyak, the company’s president, chairman and CEO, told me this morning that the company has seen strong growth in its “other payment” segment, which includes things like online travel programs, insurance, warranties, etc. Revenue in that segment is up 44 percent, Dubyak said, and it now accounts for 22 percent of Wright Express’ business.

Mike Dubyak, Wright Express chairman, president and CEO

Wright Express’ agreement with Expedia started in the first quarter a year ago, but much of that business came on-line in the second quarter, Dubyak noted. The first quarter of 2012 really showed the full impact of that business. That area – which also boasts agreements with Priceline and Orbitz – is growing internationally, Dubyak said, as “more and more people are going to online travel.”

The company has signed with two online customers in the United Kingdom, as well, Dubyak said. And, he added, he’s “confident” that two large online travel customers in the Australian market will sign on soon.

The work Wright Express is doing in Australia and New Zealand is seen as a jump-off point for the Asian market, Dubyak said.

“We’ve done some work in Asia, but it’s a long haul, not as easy to get in,” Dubyak told me. “We’re looking for ways to enter, whether it’s by partnering or buying a company. It’s a longer-term proposition that’s going to take some time.”

Looking at the overall economy, Dubyak said he sees at as stable. Existing customer growth is down slightly across the country, the Northeast is flat, he noted.

“It’s not like it’s robust – it just says things are stable,” Dubyak said, “which is good, versus going the other direction.”