Normal people might have been introduced to economy hotelier La Quinta
That seems like a zillion years ago. Recent history hasn't been so kind to La Quinta. Sales have been dropping every year since 1999, when they were at $912 million.
Unfortunately, the latest numbers begin with yet another year of falling revenues. Full-year sales, at $512 million, sank 2% below year-ago levels. And yes, there was red ink at the bottom line, though at $0.58 per share, it looks a lot better than 2002's loss of $3.55 per stub.
Looking at the full half of the glass, investors should notice a healthy 7% year-over-year uptick in Q4 sales, to $120 million. At $0.07 per share, fourth-quarter losses were much slimmer than the previous year's $0.18-per-share loss. Maybe the most encouraging metric was a 10% jump in Q4 RevPAR (which sounds like a new stock-car racing circuit, but it's actually "revenue per available room").
As Fool colleague Alyce Lomax pointed out last month, many hotel chains -- including some higher up the snazzy scale, such as Marriott International
Over the past year, La Quinta's shares have more than doubled to around $8 each. The balance sheet looks OK, and many turnaround-watchers will likely still consider the stock a value. But if the firm's predictions come to pass, next year will be the fifth-consecutive season of red ink, with no earnings in sight. That's a long time to wait for better times.
Looking for a La Quinta -- or any other hotel -- near water and palm trees? Check out the accommodations on the Fool's Travel and Vacation discussion board, or pay a visit to the Fool's Travel Center.
Fool contributor Seth Jayson prefers the local roach motel to neat and tidy inns. He has no stake in any company mentioned here.