Is This a Spinoff or a Shake-Off?

It will soon be separate beds for Marriott International (NYSE: MAR  ) investors. The hotelier is filing to spin off Marriott Vacations Worldwide to its shareholders by the end of the year.

When the surgery is complete, the spinoff will include Marriott Vacation Club, The Ritz-Carlton Destination Club, and Grand Residences by Marriott. These are essentially the hospitality juggernaut's fractional and residential ownership properties. Marriott International will stick to the management and franchising of hotel assets that it knows best.

Marriott's filing last night argues that the split will be in "the best interests" of both companies.

"Marriott Vacations Worldwide will be positioned to expand faster over time," the Form 10 filing reads.

I guess "over time" is the qualifying point. Marriott Vacations Worldwide has been a real drag on performance since the real estate market topped out. Revenue peaked at $2.24 billion in 2007, falling every year after that. Revenue clocked in at $1.58 billion last year, but the decline actually understates the free fall in popularity. This figure is padded by the growing number of folks that are stuck paying annual maintenance fees on timeshares, regardless if they still make sense for their travel habits. New contract sales for vacation ownership and residential products have been roughly cut in half since topping out in 2007.

The timeshare industry was a pretty seedy niche until the resort giants jumped in. Marriott, Disney's (NYSE: DIS  ) Vacation Club, Wyndham's (NYSE: WYN  ) WorldMark, and Hilton Grand Vacations cleaned things up, championing terms including "interval" and "fractional" ownership over the t-word.

Watching the value of timeshares free-fall in the aftermarket and the capitulation of many higher end destination clubs makes this a dubious industry to buy into these days. Marriott investors may want to quickly unload the Marriott Vacation Club shares they receive later this year, unless the valuation proves to be ridiculously attractive.

If there's any growth to be found here, it's either in a behemoth like Disney that keeps resales from hitting the open market or in the companies benefiting from frazzled timeshare owners.

Interval Leisure Group (Nasdaq: IILG  ) runs a popular network for owners to swap out their timeshare weeks for getaways at rival vacation properties. Today's successful IPO of HomeAway (Nasdaq: AWAY  ) is a fast-growing alternative to upscale vacation properties without the shackles of timeshares and destination clubs.

Avoiding Marriott Vacations Worldwide is what is ultimately in the "best interest" of investors.

Have you been burned by a timeshare or destination club? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has been burned by vacation clubs before. He does own shares in Disney. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.


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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On August 15, 2013, at 2:27 PM, barbie15fletcher wrote:

    Timeshares need to be looked up as a purchase and not an investment. Regardless of how timeshares are presented, they don´t perform as well as a house or stock investment. If you look around the resale market for timeshares on websites like EBay, Redweek, or TUGBBS will find that you can buy a timeshare for far less money than what the first owner purchased it for. This is a good article about timeshares as an investment:

    http://www.timesharescam.com/blog/58-is-timeshare-a-good-inv...

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