Why Strategic Hotels Shares Jumped

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Strategic Hotels & Resorts (NYSE: BEE  ) were headed to the penthouse suite today, gaining as much as 18% after the company announced its CEO was leaving and rumors of a potential buyout emerged.

So what: On Friday, Founder Laurence Geller stepped down as president and CEO of the REIT, which owns stakes in a number of luxury hotels including the Four Seasons and Intercontinental, and the surprise announcement led analysts to believe a sale could be afoot. Geller will be replaced by Raymond Gellein, the current chairman of the board. The company also reaffirmed its guidance for the year and will report quarterly earnings on Wednesday.

Now what: Today's bounce in the stock seemed to come more from a belief that the company may be up for sale. The recession has hit the luxury hotelier hard as shares are down nearly 80% from where they stood in 2007. On the conference call following the resignation announcement, Gellein deflected any questions about potential sale. Among those betting that a sale could be in the works is JMP Securities, which upgraded the stock to outperform. Investors will hear more any possible plans on Wednesday in the earnings report, and Thursday when official filings of the transition are made. Until then, this remains mostly speculation.

Want more info on Strategic? Just add the company to your watchlist here.


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