What happened 

Shares of Marriott International (NASDAQ:MAR) fell as much as 6.5% in trading Monday after the company reported first-quarter 2020 results. This was the first look we've gotten at financials since the COVID-19 pandemic struck the travel industry, and the impact has been profound. Shares recovered slightly as the day wore on, but were still down 5% at 2:15 p.m. EDT today. 

So what

Total revenue was down just 7% in the quarter to $4.7 billion, and net income was still $31 million, or $0.09 per share. But that didn't tell the story of what happened late in the quarter. 

Hotel staff handing a guest a room key.

Image source: Getty Images.

January revenue per available room outside of China (where COVID-19 was already affecting business) was up an impressive 4.6%, but then the bottom fell out. By April, revenue per available room was down 90%, and right now about a quarter of Marriott's hotels are closed. Guidance wasn't provided, but we can infer that second-quarter results are likely to be down more than the first quarter given current trends. 

Now what

Investors didn't really know what to expect from Marriott last quarter, so there wasn't much of a guidepost from analysts like we usually have. But it's important to hear what the company is doing today and how it sees a recovery taking place. 

Management said that China has had the most signs of recovery, with occupancy at 25% in April, up from under 10% in mid-February. If travelers slowly return to China, that likely means Asia-Pacific, European, and North American business will return over the summer and fall. There are some optimistic signs, despite today's drop in shares, but the road ahead could be rocky for the hotel business. 

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