What happened

The stock market was having a mixed day on Monday, with the S&P 500 index modestly lower and the Dow Jones Industrial Average slightly higher at 3 p.m. EST. However, hotel operator Marriott International (NASDAQ:MAR) was outperforming the market handily, with shares up by about 6% for the day and hitting a fresh 52-week high.

So what

It may seem odd that a hotel operator is reaching a new high today. After all, the hotel business is still running at a fraction of pre-pandemic business levels, and Marriott recently reported a 50% year-over-year revenue decline in 2020 and its first annual loss since the financial crisis era.

Man checking into a hotel.

Image source: Getty Images.

However, it appears that several analysts see a very bright future for Marriott in a post-pandemic world, and that's what is driving the stock higher today. BMO Capital raised Marriott's price target to $135 from $126, while Morgan Stanley increased the hotel stock's price target to $123 from $120. (Marriott's stock price is about $143.50 as of this writing.)

Wells Fargo and Evercore ISI Group seem to be the biggest reasons for the move. Wells Fargo increased its price target on Marriott to $154, while Evercore ISI now has a $158 price target and has upgraded the hotel operator to outperform.

Now what

To be sure, it's typically a good idea to take stock analyst upgrades with a big grain of salt. Nothing has changed in Marriott's business as a result of the analysts' moves. However, the fact that so many analysts are bullish on the hotel operator (at least four other analysts raised price targets last week as well) is making investors think there might be more pent-up demand for travel than originally thought.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.