Thank heaven for small miracles. With The Simple Life dead and buried, the Hilton moniker is once again likely to be associated with the Hilton Hotels
After yesterday's very hospitable first-quarter results, the company deserves a little love.
Back in January, when Fool Alyce Lomax looked between the sheets at the firm's full-year results, she discovered a few bedbugs, including profits that had dipped 17% for 2003 and a warning that this year's first quarter might be a tough one.
That came despite other signs that increased travel plans might raise plenty of boats in the vacation pond, including other hotel players, such as Marriott
Either management's crystal ball needed a good dust-off, or it was sandbagging. The first quarter showed decent revenue gains across the entire firm. Company-owned hotel revenue was flat, but the company owned fewer hotels this year than last. Comparable revenues were up 6% for the quarter, and the industry's favorite non-word, RevPAR (revenues per available room), crept ahead 2.9%, held back by a very slow convention scene in Chicago.
Higher RevPAR at managed and franchised hotel locations contributed to an 11% increase in those revenues. But the big winner was the firm's time-share segment, Hilton Grand Vacations Company, which posted a 45% revenue increase.
The trickle down to the bottom line read $0.10 per share, five times better than last year's numbers, though only 2.5 times as good if you adjust for some onetime charges in the prior period. Hilton management lifted its guidance for the full year, looking for $4.16 billion in revenues and earnings per share of $0.50.
With the stock near a 52-week high, it looks richly valued to me. Both the trailing and forward P/E ratios stand above 35, on earnings growth estimates of nearly 20%. There are plenty of stocks with better growth prospects selling for lower multiples.
Fool contributor Seth Jayson is an inveterate cheapskate who would rather crash on a friend's couch than shell out for a hotel room. He has no stake in any firm mentioned above. View his Fool profile here.